FIREPOWER - AMC Skyline, Belair, Marlow, Rolling Valley and White Flint 5.

The best part about "Firepower" was the illusion, at the beginning, that Sophia Loren was going to play a woman named Tosca. Radical politics! Power! Passion!

No such luck. Loren, who used to be able to speak English, was, it turned out from the credits, playing someone named Tasca. The politics consist of a couple of federal gray-suiters employing the glamorous underworld to do its lying, burning and killing because the Department of Justice is apparently hampered by some technicality from pursuing justice this way itself.

The power is a paltry version of the Reclusive Millionaire routine that another film-maker, Howard Hughes, had developed. It seems that the Richest Man in the World hides from the world and the tax collector in the sealed floor of a hotel, and from there control people's lives.

An attempt to capture him is used to make the film into a thriller for pyromaniacs. People keep catching fire, as do houses, wharves, boats and offices. A good percentage of this film is crackling, but not with excitement.

However, the Powerful Man has overlooked another meaning of the work fire and the power that carries. None of his advisers seem to have suggested to him that, being the top man, he could fire people. Just about all the troubles he has in this movie could have been solved by firings of that less dramatic sort, if you count divorce as a form of firing.

As for passion, it's naturally represented by Loren. The only surprise is that what gets them all is not her looks, but specifically her opening gambit to men of power and wealth: "I've always admired men with power and wealth." Tycoons who are fed up with subtleties adore this, one learns.

Among those who didn't learn anything in this film are James Coburn, O. J. Simpson, Eli Wallach, Anthony Franciosa and George Grizzard. Not even not to play with matches. CAPTION: Picture, SOPHIA LOREN, SMOLDERING IN "FIREPOWER."