Backdraft Anniversary Edition: (Disc 1) Ron Howard Introduction; Deleted Scenes (Disc 2) Igniting The Story; Bringing Together The Team; The Explosive Stunts; Creating the Villain: The Fire; Real-Life Fireman, Real-Life Stories
Anyhow let's get to the movie. It's a tale of two feuding McCaffrey brothers Stephen and Brian McCaffrey who have generally been at odds with each other for almost their whole lives but both of their lives are changed when their father Dennis and now amidst the conflict they've had with each other, the two struggle to carry on the family firefighting business. Amidst their longstanding distant relations, their fire department is grappled with a large outbreak of arson attacks that have been occurring at a disturbingly frequent rate in Chicago and the whole department is at a fast pace to track down the causes, and possibly the one responsible for the fires. Also, another major hurdle in the fire department's investigation into the cause of the numerous fires sweeping Chicago ARE major funding cutbacks from an inept bureaucratic alderman (played by the late J.T.Walsh) and it's making an already dangerous task a much bigger headache not only for lieutenant Rimgale, but also making things a lot more complicated for the feuding McCaffrey Brothers.
Back when this movie was new back in the early 1990s, I enjoyed it for its edge-of-your seat action but today, I love this movie for many more reasons now. First, the movie's tale of the heroism of firefighting and how they are ready and not afraid to put their own lives on hold to save others is absolutely gripping and sometimes saddening to know but also very compelling. Another thing that really makes this compelling as well is the sometimes heartbreaking tale of what it's like to be in the shadow of an experienced firefighter who is also one's own brother. Although I've experienced little sibling conflict, as a younger brother, I can especially understand all the insecurity of what Brian goes through in this movie. The movie is also very compelling with the intense and rich music by composer Hans Zimmer. The fiery special effects are absolutely amazing especially for it's time.
However, I would have to say that I have noticed some occasional flaws in this movie but they do not take away any of its power and entertainment factor by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps the greatest speed bump is that this defies some of the real life laws of physics. In several scenes, the firefighters go right into the burning buildings with no gas masks and no oxygen tanks either. This is probably what has turned some people off here. In real life, these firefighters in this movie would have suffered third degree burns and burned to death in just a matter of minutes but also there are also the numerous noxious fumes that fires can generate and they would have suffered permanent and or serious lung damage from the heat of the hot air and the smoke. That brings to mind, in several of the fires in this movie, I have noticed little smoke in many of them. I've seen cooking grills in the backyard generate smoke than some of the scenes in the movie. These are just some things that I feel were evident in this movie but I guess even then, it would've been impossible to create a movie that would perfectly follow the laws of physics especially one like "Backdraft" so I forgive them for this and it doesn't subtract any stars from the ratings.
I give my hands down to Kurt Russell and William Baldwin who played the emotionally distant brothers Stephen "The Bull" and Brian McCaffrey. Kurt Russell's role as Stephen was very intense and sometimes heart-wrenching as he played the emotionally unstable elder McCaffrey brother. I especially was moved by William Baldwin's portrayal as the younger firefighter brother Brian. Although I've gotten along very well with my older brother on an overall note, but as a younger sibling, I especially identify quite well with Brian's character. It's very emotionally heartbreaking seeing the often very fractious relations between the two firefighting siblings especially towards the latter half of the movie. The other cast are really great as well. Robert De Niro's role as the lieutenant Donald Rimgale was so cool especially when Rimgale is disgruntled when trying to find out the causes of all of these numerous fires. I really feel that De Niro's role is hindered by the fact that Rimgale is more of a background character than a major character. Although only a minor role and in a few scattered scenes, I really thought that Donald Sutherlands role as the former arsonist Donald Bartel was absolutely a thrill to watch and even very chilling at times. The only disappointing thing about Rimgale and Bartel is that this movie doesn't allow much insight into these two and I felt they could really have used more development. While not to the degree of dropping the ball necessarily, the female roles of Rebecca De Mornay as Stephen's estranged wife, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the secretary to the alderman I felt were rather unremarkable in my opinion.
Everyone involved with this project deserves all of the praise that they can get. Not only have they created a very entertaining film, they've also succeeded in making a very compelling and heroic movie about the most underappreciated heroes that our country is blessed with. The ending is also very touching in a way the few movies do once finished. "Backdraft" is one of the most underrated movies of the past 25 years and is one of the greatest action movies ever made. If I were to pick a favorite of mines from Ron Howard, "Backdraft" is my pick for his best movie to date not only because of excellent directing but because of a highly compelling plot, excellent script and incredible special effects as well. The music, courtesy of Hans Zimmer, is absolutely amazing and makes this movie even more compelling and encouraging to the extent that it almost makes you want to do something good for society. I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of this movie because it's one of the most compelling and emotional movies that has ever been made. The ending is really one of the most moving endings I've ever seen in a movie outside of "Lord of The Rings: Return of The King". The DVD unfortunately offers little in the way of extras and the transfer is asking for a better re-transfer for perhaps a "Special Edition" DVD some unknown future.
The movie is the story of a firefighting department with two firefighting brothers who have throughout their... Read more