Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
So all right, the plot of "Firewall" is not fireproof (or airtight, as I described the plot of "Flight Plan"). The readers who wrote me endless e-mails about the holes in the plot of the Jodie Foster thriller will be back at work on this one, telling me why the kidnapper should have known more about the security at Harrison Ford's bank, and why the subplot involving the dog sucks, and why an iPod can't do that.
Actually, an iPod can do that -- act as a backup hard drive, that is, although I don't know if its memory is equal to the customer database for a chain of banks. If it was only needed for the account numbers and passwords, it would probably be adequate. As to whether the kidnapper knew enough about the bank's security system, well, the proof is in the pudding, or the withdrawals.
But there is a larger question: Need a thriller be plausible in order to be entertaining? One of the most common routines in the filmcrit biz, one I have myself performed many times, involves demolishing the credibility of a plot as if you have therefore demolished the movie. I think there's a sliding scale involved: If the movie is manifestly impossible while you're watching it, then that can be fatal (unless, of course, it is a movie intended to be manifestly impossible, like a James Bond thriller). If however, the movie holds water or at least doesn't leak too quickly, I'm not very concerned about whether you can tear it to pieces after you leave the theater.
There are movies that require long discussions after you see them, like Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble," and others that exist entirely in the moment, like "Firewall." Unfortunately, they seem to attract each other's audiences. Judging by my feedback, many moviegoers dismissed "Bubble" (many without seeing it), but my guess is they'll analyze "Firewall" as if it were a take-home exam for Logic 101.