Backdraft

"Good"

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

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

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.