Backdraft Reviews

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½ June 3, 2014
An innovative idea that grasped my attention at first, until I became aware that the characters and melodramatic situations overpowered the fires which they were trying to put out.
March 28, 2015
Backdraft is a great movie because its strengths do a good job of making you overlook its flaws. The biggest problem is the actors. Both Will Baldwin and Jenn Leigh in every movie they've done have what I call the Travolta syndrome. All the Baldwin's have it. They smile a lot and always try beyond their acting ability to be cute and charming, and the way they talk sounds more appropriate for a stage play or a television commercial. There's something fake and shallow about their acting, maybe because too much of their real personalities come through. When you watch them perform you don't see them as characters in a movie; their acting gives you the impression that they're really nice people in real life and you'd like to meet them. The Travolta Syndrome. Most Travolta movies I've seen his acting isn't good, but he puts so much of himself into a role and you like the real identity that you see so you end up liking the character because you like the real John Travolta. This type of acting does have its place. Usually in comedies. Travolta's friendly, charming bad boy persona was perfect for Grease. That's what they're acting feels like in Backdraft, like they're going to break into a musical number at any second. Maybe the acting is all-around poor because Ron Howard told them they're motivation is that they're in a real big, dramatic movie that honors firefighters and every scene will be an Oscar moment. But really, it's no more profound than your standard made-for-TV movie.

Kurt Russell definitely brought some talent to the more dramatic scenes involving fire, but seemed asleep through the rest of the movie. The guy can't escape being an action star and a physical actor. He's unconvincing in every dramatic scene besides the scenes where he's fighting a person or fighting a fire. Russell is still a good actor, though. He proved that in The Thing.

Robert DeNiro was wasted in this. He just walked around and read his lines and he wasn't worth the money he was paid to be in the movie. If Baldwin and DeNiro switched roles the movie would have been much better.

The action is the best part of the movie. Every scene that shows a backdraft is really cool. My favorite scene is where they're walking up the stairs and the backdraft shuts the door and starts to bend it. It was like a scene from a haunted house movie. Also, firemen are just cool. Backdraft gets a four star rating from me mostly because it's a brilliant salute to firefighters, especially the one's who fight crime on the side.
April 1, 2015
Shallow as a puddle and the special effects can not save it.
Super Reviewer
February 16, 2015
The crime-thriller, family-drama and action hero elements of the film rub up against each other rather than meshing, but the skill that went in to the filmmaking behind Backdraft is irrefutable.
February 6, 2015
Directed by Ron Howard, who after making Parenthood (1989), which had touched upon a lot of mature themes, decided he wanted to make more serious films for a living. So, he set about looking for a suitable film, and he found it in this action-thriller written by Gregory Widen (Highlander (1986)), and it's a powerful and well made film, and Howard gets the best from his cast and even the fire sequences. The film focuses on the firefighters of Engine 17 of the Chicago Fire Department, in particular, 2 brothers. Lt. Stephen "Bull" McCaffrey (Kurt Russell) and Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin), the latter witnessed his father Dennis (Russell again) killed in a backdraft of fire 20 years before. Mayoral candidate Alderman Martin Swayzak (J.T. Walsh) wants to make cuts to the city's fire department budget, which the team argue will risk lives. Then, a series of fires occur around Chicago that all seem very similar, and arson investigator Donald "Shadow" Rimgale (Robert De Niro) finds out more, and he even calls upon Brian to help out, much to Stephen's jealousy. It's well made, and it helped to advance Howard's career significantly, and he was blessed with a good, strong cast, and it has some very realistic action sequences, all well choreographed considering they deal with working with fire. It might come across as cliched in places, but it's still a well made and very tense and taut film.
December 27, 2014
Still as great as I remembered it from my childhood.
½ December 21, 2014
I actually seem to realize that I have never seen a firefighter movie before as there's very few movies of them, and Backdraft proves that there should be more of them. William Baldwin, Kurt Russell, and Robert De Niro are great performances, but the best is from Donald Sutherland who does an amazing job at being calm and crazy at the same time. The plot goes through genres a bit from an action, to mystery. They both work effectively as for the action, it's very exciting and very good. There's lots of explosions that make it seem like something Michael Bay would do, but it makes sense with this film. The special effects from what they can use of it, look really good and alive. As a mystery film, it kept me interested to see what's going on and the makings of a huge fire. There's no villain in this. Even if there's a villain in this, the character had a reason to do it and just thought what was right. Backdraft is the best firefighter movie I have seen, even if the secondary characters aren't memorable, and there may not be a firefighter movie that can be as good as this.
December 19, 2014
Like watching a two hour beer commercial.
½ November 30, 2014
good film great special eff
October 5, 2014
How did this movie receive Academy nominations? The acting is awful and the storyline is just terrible. I remember starting to watch this when it came out on VHS and couldn't finish it. I gave it another shot 23 years later and hated it more the second time. I like William Baldwin and Kurt Russell, but this movie is just terrible. Predictable.

Living in Chicago, I'm quite aware of the history of corrupt politics in the city. This movie is only embarrassment towards the real firefighters of Chicago. Pick another city have correct politics. Again, too predictable.

The only positive thing I can say is that some of the special effects were decent.
December 5, 2013
While it does a good job of portraying the camaraderie among firefighters and delivers some thrilling action setpieces, BACKDRAFT is still hampered by an unwieldy and unfocused narrative.
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2014
The fire effects have held up remarkably well, but that's about the only thing of note. This notion that fire is a "living breathing thing" and is essentially the the film's main villain ( I'd argue Scott Glenn was just a henchman) is entirely too stupid to forgive.
½ February 20, 2010
(First and only viewing - 8/31/2010)
July 20, 2014
Best movie when I was a kid!!!
July 12, 2014
It's a pretty cheesy movie and half of the dialog comes off as hilarious (or maybe that's just me).... BUT it's still an enjoyable film.
June 27, 2014
For an action film that exceeds 2 hours, there's far too much emphasis on sibling bickering and not enough on the part of the plot that's actually interesting; Donald Sutherland as a crazy serial arsonist. Also, exceptional special effects? Really? Does that include the scenes where the footage of fire is clearly being played in reverse?
½ May 22, 2014
Il y a 20 ans, j'aurais mis un 5 étoiles, mais, aujourd'hui, je ne lui donne que 2 étoiles et demie parce que je suis généreux. Des pompiers allant au front sans masque à gaz!? Il y en a qui y ont cru? Je viens de briser la magie de mon enfance.
½ May 19, 2014
Backdraft is really two movies: an ode to heroic firemen and a political thriller. As a consequence, it is long, bloated and disconnected. It should have just tried to do one well.
½ May 13, 2014
While it's often advertised as a drama film, it doesn't play out much like what I'd recognize as a drama film. It's presented like an action-thriller film, but it doesn't feel much like one either. Either way, it's actually a pretty good film, even if the plot does have some mild pacing problems, by which I mean it tends to take a while to get to the point. The characters are actually pretty good, and their performances are also quite good. Due it being a film where you need fire to appear often, the film is loaded with special effects, and I think the special effects team got a little trigger-happy with the explosions. While this might be a problem for some, the special effects actually look really good, as though they did a professional job with the special effects. There's a little bit of action, and there's a little bit of drama, but I find that, rather than doing both, they should have made Backdraft as one kind of film. The end result of that move would have had more depth, and would have benefited from more solid ideas. However, the film is still pretty good as it is, so I'm giving Ron Howard the benefit of the doubt.
May 9, 2014
Not a lot of people can truely say that they have a one unique favorite movie thats stands out from the rest. Howerver for me Backdraft does. Directed by Ron Howard with an all star cast , Backdraft is the story of Chicago Firefighters of Engine 17. The film begins seeing young Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin) witnessing his farthers death at a building fire. We cut to 17 years later Brian having just graduated as a candiadte Firefighter , he and his older brother Lt Stephen McCaffery (Played By Kurt Russell) don't get along so well , Stephen tempers with Brians station so that Brian is sent to his Department , Stephen looks over Brian & worrys about him after a factory fire , Brian did not listen to Stephens orders and nearly got killed. After a few weeks Stephen convinces Brian to give up being a Firefighter. Meanwhile thorought the movie , the Department responds to numerous calls that have been killing people with Backdrafts. Brian get's a new Job withfire inspector Donald Rimgale (Played by Robert De Niro), Him & Donald investigate how & who is causing the backdrafts which end in an epic finally and a extremly sad ending. Why do I love this movie ? well beside from the fact that it has stunning special effects & visuals , amazing music & strong performances. I love it being that I watched it at a very young age and since then , my whole llife i've wanted to be a firefighter , sure its farfetched & far from real but thats not the point. The movie made me love Firefighters & My dream is to someday be a professional firefighter. I could watch this movie 10 times a day and never get tired of it. Its one of those movies that get's even better after you watch it again & again . Backdraft.....Thank you.
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