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.
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.