Veteran television director David Barrett makes his feature film debut with Fire with Fire. It’s the latest production from Cheetah Vision, the company founded by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Say what you will about the quality of the films he produces, Jackson seems to be doing something right from a commercial standpoint. Cheetah Vision films are generally action thrillers (the illness-themed drama All Things Fall Apart being a notable exception) that include at least one big name star in a supporting role. Fire with Fire features none other than Bruce Willis, an unlikely Cheetah Vision semi-regular (he co-starred with Jackson in 2011’s Setup). The film delivers just enough excitement (plus supporting turns by Vincent D’Onofrio and Rosario Dawson) to qualify as an acceptable time-passer.
Josh Duhamel (William Lennox in all three Transformers films) stars as California-based firefighter Jeremy Coleman. Early on, Jeremy witnesses a double homicide in a convenience store and quickly becomes the target of the perpetrator, a white supremacist crime figure named Hagan (Vincent D’Onofrio). Despite having been arrested after Jeremy identifies him in a lineup, the police realize Hagan is planning to come after the fireman. They usher Jeremy into the witness protection program, relocating him to New Orleans. It’s there that Jeremy begins a torrid relationship with the Federal Marshall in charge of him, Talia (Rosario Dawson).
Turns out Hagan has a pretty long arm. Out of jail pending his trial, thanks to his dirt-bag lawyer (Richard Schiff), Hagan attempts to have Talia murdered just to mess with Jeremy. Thanks to some firearm training courtesy of his new girlfriend, Jeremy manages to take out the hitman. Unfortunately, Talia is shot and seriously injured. The Feds whisk her off to another location, outraged with her and Jeremy for becoming romantically entangled. Even though they hadn’t been dating very long, Jeremy abandons the witness protection program to head back to California to take down Hagan and his henchmen.
Where does Willis fit into this scenario? He plays Mike Cella, a Long Beach cop who’s fed up with Hagan’s criminal activity. He becomes involved in the case to an unusually close degree, investing considerable personal interest in Jeremy’s well-being. Basically Willis’ cop, even though he turns up fairly regularly throughout the film, maintains a mostly administrative role. No heavy lifting involved. Willis is here to catch the eye of potential DVD/Blu-ray renters and buyers. It’s D’Onofrio who steals the show as the only cast member who seems to have having any fun. He chews the scenery pretty thoroughly as Hagan, milking his Southern accent and general air of malevolence for all it’s worth. 50 Cent turns up in what amounts to a cameo as a gun dealer.