Backdraft

"OK"

Backdraft Review


I got in enough trouble as a kid to learn firsthand that fire is cool.

That said, even the wicked fire shots of Backdraft -- which feature rising towers of flame, backwards-flowing fire, and blankets of flame that slowly ripple across the floor -- are barely able to distract you from the ultimately tiresome family drama that makes up the bulk of Ron Howard's firehouse epic.

Ostensibly the movie is about an arsonist who's terrorizing Chicago. Two fireman brothers (Kurt Russell and a tragically cast William Baldwin), long estranged, end up working together to not just track down the arsonist but also to put out the frequent fires that he sets. Meanwhile, older bro has a rocky marriage and younger bro is romancing the assistant (Jennifer Jason Leigh, looking all glammed up like you've never seen her) to a bigshot Alderman. It's ultimately all padding for the action scenes, which certainly give the impression that this is one of the most dangerous movies ever photographed.

The plot is simultaneously overblown and threadbare, and Howard telegraphs who the arsonist is from an hour away (the film clocks in at well over the two-hour mark). It's a bizarre and unfortunate fact that makes Backdraft's amazing effects work seem like it's throwing pearls before swine. Even Robert De Niro and Donald Sutherland are wasted in small roles, tasked with delivering soliloquys to distract us from Baldwin's attempts to act seriously.

It's probably no coincidence that Backdraft marks the first film where Ron Howard finally turned into A Serious Director, with mixed results. His earlier films centered on comedy (Splash, Gung Ho) and fantasy (Willow). With Backdraft, the older, more serious Opie was born. Unfortunately Howard would still be finding his feet for some years to come (his next movie was the instantly forgotten Far and Away), but eventually truly great films (Apollo 13) would arrive... with even more impressive effects.

So consider Backdrafta curiosity and an important, yet flawed, step along the way to maturity for Howard. But you gotta love the fire.

Now available on a two-disc anniversary edition, the package includes an intro from an obviously oblivious Howard, deleted scenes, and a gaggle of making-of featurettes that cover everything you could possibly want to know about the making of the film.



Backdraft

Facts and Figures

Run time: 137 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th May 1991

Box Office Worldwide: $152.4M

Budget: $75M

Distributed by: MCA Universal Home Video

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Trilogy Entertainment Group, Imagine Films Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Dennis McCaffrey, as Donald Rimgale, as Ronald Bartel, as Brian McCaffrey, as Jennifer Vaitkus, as John 'Axe' Adcox, as Helen McCaffrey, as Tim Kirzminski, J. T. Walsh as Alderman Marty Swayzak, Anthony Mockus Sr. as Chief John Fitzgerald, Cedric Young as Grindle, Juan Ramírez as Ray Santos, Kevin Casey as Nightingale, as Schmidt, Mark Wheeler as Pengelly, Ryan Goldstein as Brian, Age 7

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

With its grindingly low-key tension and unusual perspectives, this Western has a chance to revamp...

Criminal Movie Review

Criminal Movie Review

Almost criminally entertaining, this preposterous thriller mixes buckets of humour and emotion into the violent,...

The Jungle Book Movie Review

The Jungle Book Movie Review

Using remarkably photorealistic animation, this remake of the 1967 Disney classic is warm and enjoyable,...

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety...

Midnight Special Movie Review

Midnight Special Movie Review

Gifted director Jeff Nichols takes on another genre in his fourth film with actor Michael...

Advertisement
Boulevard Movie Review

Boulevard Movie Review

This dark, introspective drama hinges on one of Robin Williams' final film performances before his...

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

Aside from success at the box office, there was nothing about 2012's rather uneven fantasy...

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

It's fairly obvious that the cast and crew began making this film with only the...

Victoria Movie Review

Victoria Movie Review

One of the most breathtaking films of the year, this ambitious story shifts from a...

Eddie the Eagle Movie Review

Eddie the Eagle Movie Review

Based on the true story of an unapologetic underdog who never won anything, this British...

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review

After 2013's beefy Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder goes even bigger and darker with...

Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Movie Review

Zootopia [aka Zootropolis] Movie Review

The filmmakers behind Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph join forces for this entertaining animated action comedy,...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.