IMDB Score – 6.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 73%
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Directed By – Ron Howard
Starring – Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert Deniro, Scott Glenn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, JT Walsh, and Rebecca De Mornay
Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along have to work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.
Before I talk about this movie, let me preface this by saying that I grew up in a fire house. My father and brother are firefighters and ever since I was born I have been around the men and women who dedicate their lives to this profession. I just wanted to state that to give my comments context.
This movie kind of sucked. However, this was not due to anything fire related.
First the good. There aren’t many firefighter films but this may be the most accurate in depicting what the job is like. Sure every example on screen is an extreme one, but those events do happen and I’ve seen it myself. The gigantic buildings covered in flames were a real representation of what it’s like when a fire starts eating everything in its path. Why am I explaining fire to you? Have you seen “Ladder 41”? Holy shit, it was like they wanted to make ever single fire look as crazy as humanly possible. Now, did Backdraft do this? To some degree yes it did, but the scenes of the aftermath including the charred remains and the effect fire has on the surrounding buildings…that shit was real. I was impressed with the way Ron Howard did his homework. They also captured the lingo, attitudes, looks, and environment that surrounds living/working in a fire department. None of the characters were really likable and that describes what a family is. A bunch of people who hate each other but will die for one another within a moments notice.
The actual story behind the film, give me a break. I understand this was the 90s, and a little cheese was needed but my god did the script suck. It was cliche after cliche after cliche. There was no originality in the story whatsoever and there were more plot holes than I could count. The last half hour of the film, while stunning in how it was shot, was completely stupid and rushed. The person we have been chasing the entire film for starting these fires had no real reason to do so and didn’t have an actual chance to explain until he was gone. We were told who did it, let it sink in for 27 seconds, and then BOOM, action set piece to end the film that was only used in the film for emotional impact, and there was none, cause none of the characters were likable in any way. I didn’t care. It was a horrible script.
Where did that Baldwin go by the way? Alec is off getting arrested for boozing while still turning in good work on TV. Stephen’s best work was in “The Usual Suspects” but that is compared to his work in “Biodome”. Daniel is a boozer without turning in good work on anything. What happened to William? It’s just kind of weird. Also, Robert Deniro, as high profile an actor as he is, did not get enough screen time. It’s a crime to use him as much as they did. As for Russell, I only like him when Aliens or eye patches are involved.
Don’t watch the film if you’re looking for a gripping thriller. Watch the film if you want to know how fire fighters live their lives when the shit hits the fan. Ron Howard certainly has better films, but as far as pure action goes, this may be his best pure action film. That isn’t saying much though.