So four years ago the main villain stole four million Dollars and hid it deep within the forest. He now decides to break out of jail with some colleges during a big forest fire which one of his compadres on the outside started. Naturally a female is taken hostage and its up to the lone 'smokejumper' to save the day with his mighty axe.
The term 'smokejumper' is actually what they call these guys that are trained to jump from helicopters into fires to save people, its not me being sarcastic. But this is what's so funny about this film, right from the get go we are shown the banal camaraderie and makeup of the small team. These smokejumpers led by Long are your typical team of Hollywood characters, the attractive female, the mouthy young male, the wiser vet and Long who is the big butch guy. Only thing missing is the token black guy.
Luckily we don't have to put up with this A-Team type cliched machoism as the action centres on Long surviving in the wilderness against the bad guys. The bad guys are easily the more interesting bunch with William Forsythe as their homicidal leader. Gotta give credit to Forsythe as he always makes such a riveting nasty villain, his fierce chubby looks are just perfect the way he snarls and grimaces when he gets mad, and in this he just about kills anyone. Check the early performance for Barry Pepper as one of the bad guys.
The whole idea for this film is so thin really, its just an everyday action movie but its set within a huge forest fire. It just comes across as trying to make another field of US rescue workers out to be cool equipment wearing top guns. Of course Long uses all his trained boyscout methods to beat the bad guys whilst curiously never actually getting into any good fights, well not many.
I was gonna compare this to 'Backdraft' but its not really like that, that had some sense about it whilst this is complete violent nonsense. Despite that there are numerous visual moments which look pretty similar and its worth noting that Scott Glenn plays almost the same type of role in this as he does in 'Backdraft'.
The whole thing is predictable as hell and can't even come up with any decent visuals to help you along. Long is a weak leading man even though he has the look of one and things that happen along the way just raise questions, but its hardly a thinker, just dumb.
It's your basic cons-on-the-run story that borrows heavily from other, better flicks like "Shoot to Kill", "Cliffhanger" and even "Broken Arrow". Long is certainly good-looking enough to be a star, but he's sorely lacking in charisma and comic timing. He's stiff and heavy-handed, and he's not helped in the least by the weak writing. And any good action film is defined by its villain, and that's yet another problem I had with this. William Forsythe can be a great bad guy, as he proved in "Out For Justice" among others. But here he's reduced to tired wise cracks and predictable bursts of violence. He's better than this weak material.
It's obvious that more thought went into staging the action sequences than character development or writing a script, and I guess that means at least "Firestorm" isn't a total loss. There are some gripping moments here, but I couldn't get into the story.