‘Fire With Fire’ arrives in UK cinemas trailing a strong whiff of failure: despite the presence of one bankable star – Bruce Willis – and a host of recognisable names including Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson and Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, it was ignominiously dumped straight to DVD in the US. So it’s a reasonably pleasant surprise to discover that this is far from a disaster, rather a sturdy, unambitious but thoroughly watchable action thriller.
When chiselled fireman Jeremy (Duhamel) witnesses neo-Nazi thug Hagan (Vincent D’Onofrio, blending Tom Arnold and John Wayne Gacy) carrying out a gangland hit, he agrees to go into witness protection. But when Hagan tracks him down, he has no option but to counterattack (hence the title). There’s much here that’s lazy and idiotic: Duhamel is a plank, Willis’s scenes seem to have been shot in an afternoon, Vinnie Jones proves he still hasn’t made it to those acting classes and the script is filled with juicy clunkers. But with D’Onofrio and Dawson bringing the thunder, a plot that never sits still and a handful of genuinely dramatic scenes, ‘Fire With Fire’ is perfectly serviceable old-fashioned Friday night entertainment.