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5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is fiery excellent.
This is my second favorite movie behind T2 Judgement Day from 1991.
The movie is the story of a firefighting department with two firefighting brothers who have throughout their lives been at odds with each otehr. However, their distant relations have been put to the test when a string of fires caused by arson attacks pop up all over the ghettos of Chicago.
Even...
Published on Nov. 8 2003 by Mikey

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Fire Wins the Oscar
With a creaky plot, and what seemed to me, playing fast and loose with how firemen actually fight fires, all is forgiven for the magnificent scenes of fires that actually seem to be living monsters desperately searching for oxygen so they can engulf the universe. Scary stuff!
Kurt Russell and William Baldwin are firefighter brothers carrying on the legacy of their...
Published on June 28 2003 by sweetmolly


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5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is fiery excellent., Nov. 8 2003
This is my second favorite movie behind T2 Judgement Day from 1991.
The movie is the story of a firefighting department with two firefighting brothers who have throughout their lives been at odds with each otehr. However, their distant relations have been put to the test when a string of fires caused by arson attacks pop up all over the ghettos of Chicago.
Even worse is that the department is being deprived of funds by a sleazy bureucratic alderman and it's an unplesant and dangerous twist of turns as they find out whose responsible for the string of arson induced fires.
William Baldwin and Kurt Russell are absolutley fabulous playing the often clashing McCaffrey bothers as they fight numerous fires and face off against a 'beast' that burns along the walls and ceilings of the rooms.
The fiery special effects are just magnificent and makes this movie even better.
This is a truly magnificant movie. The DVD offers nothing new other than excellent improvement in quality over the VHS. By far one of the best movies of 1991.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This Movie is a Capital Crime, July 12 2003
By 
Nicholas Stix (New York City/Queens) - See all my reviews
The big-budget movie Backdraft has a talented cast and director, yet it represents a prodigious waste. The movie is a failure because it has a no-talent actor, William Baldwin, in one of the leads; its otherwise gifted director, Ron Howard, had a bad day; and its screenwriter, hack Gregory Widen, never had a good one.
The story is about Chicago firemen, particularly two brothers whose father died in the line of duty, when they were youngsters. But it gets mystical: "A fire eats ... and breathes ... and hates." Sorry, but fires don't hate; only people hate.
Ron Howard must take his share of the blame for this five-alarm bomb. It was up to him to have the screenplay rewritten, or rather, re-written some more, or better yet, burned. He should never have cast Baldwin in any role, and he utterly wasted the talents of Jennifer Jason Leigh, in an idiotic part. And Howard made the picture clumsy and cloying. In the opening scene, Howard seeks to wring tears from the audience by having a fireman's helmet incredibly bounce out of a second story window, landing right at a little boy's feet. And when Howard lets a monster-fire take over in the movie's climactic scene, the pyrotechnics' emotional effect is zero. A good director deftly manipulates viewers' feelings, but in this movie, Howard has all the subtlety of a fire hose hitting you in the face.
The reliable Kurt Russell does not disappoint. Scott Glenn is good up to a point; that point is when his role, as written, becomes ludicrous. In spite of having little to work with, Rebecca deMornay does good work as Russell's long-suffering wife. And as the slimy alderman, the late J.T. Walsh is appropriately pompous and phony. Robert DeNiro is also good, although he shows the first signs of certain tics that have since become characteristic of his "mailing-it-in" performances. The most enjoyable performance is that of Donald Sutherland, who hams it up as an imprisoned arsonist who helps investigators (a storyline stolen from the novels on which The Silence of the Lambs was based).
But the screenplay is some kind of awful. Gregory Widen shovels one subplot on top of another, and they're all so much manure: The wife of the fireman who understands him, yet who seeks to pull out of the marriage, and pull their son away from his father; the youngish man and woman who have been on a romantic collision course for years, yet who inexplicably part ways without even consummating their passion; and the biggest dungheap of all, the story of a string of fatal arsons, which I won't give away.
Widen allegedly worked for three years as a fireman. I can only surmise that he did it, with an eye toward cashing in on the experience. So much for the authority of experience. And Widen's Backdraft screenplay was the highpoint of his Hollywood career!
And lest I forget, Hans Zimmer's musical score is pompous, insistent and obnoxious, though not quite the monstrosity that his later score for Crimson Tide would be. I guess he was just warming up.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fire Wins the Oscar, June 28 2003
By 
sweetmolly (RICHMOND, VA USA) - See all my reviews
With a creaky plot, and what seemed to me, playing fast and loose with how firemen actually fight fires, all is forgiven for the magnificent scenes of fires that actually seem to be living monsters desperately searching for oxygen so they can engulf the universe. Scary stuff!
Kurt Russell and William Baldwin are firefighter brothers carrying on the legacy of their father who was killed in the line of duty. Russell is hard nosed, swaggering "Bull" while baby brother Baldwin, a neophyte fireman, is sensitive and simmers with hostility at serving under rough, tough Russell. Political hanky panky has understaffed the fire department, plus arson is suspected causing an increase in death and injuries of firefighters.
The script is so predictable, it is hard to fault the actors; however, I would say Robert de Niro mainly showed up to collect his paycheck. Kurt Russell sparks whatever emotional empathy is available in a fine performance as the bullying, but strangely pure Stephen. I have a bit of fondness for the Baldwin brothers, so was satisfied with Billy's mostly soulful face throughout. Donald Sutherland was excellent in a small role as a creepy, soft-spoken former arsonist. Rebecca de Mornay and Jennifer Jason Leigh were both mainly wasted in their Loyal Ladies in Waiting roles. The pace is excellent, so boredom is never a factor.
The "extras" in the DVD are almost nonexistent, but sound and picture are good. I have this nervous feeling that every arsonist in the world had "Backdraft" on his/her must-see list.
-sweetmolly-Amazon Reviewer
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3.0 out of 5 stars Firehouse Fairy Tale..., Dec 8 2002
Ron Howard's Backdraft, is a film that centers on the lives of two brothers. Their father, a Chicago firefighter, was killed on the job when they were young boys. As adults, the McCaffreys, are both members of fire department. The elder brother Stephen (Kurt Russell), nicknamed "Bull", is a veteran firefighter, who prefers taking on a fire head on. His younger brother Brian (William Baldwin), is a recent graduate into the department, and though he seeks to serve out of his brother's shadow, he finds himself assigned to Bull's stationhouse. While Bull is something of a legend within the department, all is not perfect in his life, as estranged from his wife (Rebecca DeMornay), he lives on his father's old dry docked boat.
The family drama is set against a subplot, involving a series of suspicious fires that are being investigated by the fire department's arson specialist, Lt. Rimgale (Robert De Niro). A local Alderman (J.T. Walsh) responsible for budget cutbacks to the department, is pressing Rimgale for answers. After another clash with his big brother, Brian transfers to Rimgale's arson investigation unit.
Once this occurs, the story expands to become more than just a sibling rivalry, as the focus shifts to the investigation of arson and other matters. De Niro, Baldwin, Walsh and Donald Sutherland, who plays a crazed imprisoned arsonist, then assume more primary roles. The physics of a backdraft are quite fascinating, and the results spectacular and explosive. The film does feature some fine special effects and stunts, related to the fire fighting scenes. The identity of the arsonist, and the reasons for the crimes, may not be very credible, but the film proceeds towards a spectacular and emotional finish. In the end, it all comes back to the two brothers, and the special bond between firefighters.
The film does have its flaws. Baldwin (28) and Russell (40) are a bit of a mismatch as brothers, with more of an age difference as adults, than it appeared when they were children. The incident where Brian mistakenly rescues a mannequin is simply ridiculous. And the attempts to attribute to fire almost metaphysical qualities, may be something only firemen can truly appreciate. While the film's focus does bounce around a bit between drama, adventure and suspense, overall the presentation is still worth seeing. The DVD however offers very little in the way of extras.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Action-Melodrama!, Sept. 20 2002
By 
Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Viewed in the context of a post 911 world, this terrific film directed by Ron Howard becomes even more meaningful as a detailed portrait of the lives and lifestyles of a group of Chicago firemen trying to come to terms with as series of violet arson/murders plaguing the metropolitan landscape. And, given Kurt Russell's appeal as an action hero, this gorgeously filmed epic take on the look and feel of a travelogue into a fiery Hell! The cast is uniformly superb, ranging from Russell as the older brother whose intimidating presence is so troubling for William Baldwin, who is trying to join what amounts to the family business, and one their hero father died in the line of duty participating in.
Also terrific here is Scott Glenn as one of the senior firemen on Russell's squad, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Baldwin's long-lost love now working for an ambitious local city council member. Robert DeNiro appears as an eclectic and somewhat iconoclastic specialist trying to piece together the forensic evidence, and Donald Sutherland makes a cameo as a Looney-tunes firebug who absolutely thrills at the sight, smells and sounds of the backdraft. And of course, the quite lovely Rebecca DeMornay does an interesting turn as Russell's estranged wife, trying to come to terms with how to live either with or without him.
The story is quite absorbing, as are the series of vignettes bringing us deep into the world of the individual firemen. As a result, we come to quickly care about what happens to these characters as they suit up and slip down the pole to the waiting fire-truck, en route to yet another inferno. The drama works very well, and the action sequences are both realistic and spectacular, and the way the characters are developed and presented adds immeasurably to the story line. This is one sure to stir up your juices and get you going. This one get two thumbs way up! Enjoy!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Special Effects Make It Mildy Entertaining, July 31 2002
By 
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
My father was a fire fighter, so when I was growing up I spent a great deal of time hanging around the fire station. And virtually any one who knows anything at all about fire fighting will tell you this is one of the most completely unrealistic films you could ever hope to see. Fire fighters rush into buring yet strangely smokeless rooms with their coats flapping open and without the proper safety equipment, and in spite of the title's implication the phenomena they are talking about is called "flashover," not "backdraft." In fact, there are so many inaccuracies in this film that a grad student could probably catalogue them as a doctorial thesis.
All this having been said, BACKDRAFT is the well-crafted but essentially superficial film typical of director Ron Howard: everything is very, very slick and looks good on the screen, particularly the male leads. The story itself concerns two brothers (Kurt Russell and William Baldwin) who somehow find themselves employed by the same unit and who must bury their differences to combat a wiley arsonist with the aid of their able Lieutenant (Robert De Niro) and a flakey advisor who knows about pyromanics since he himself used to be one (Donald Sutherland.) The cast is good, the script is mechanical, and the plot is improbable--but all of this is actually beside the point, because everything about the film exists only as an excuse for lots of special effects.
And it is here that the film finally gets good marks. The pyrotechnics are great, and the film actually manages to create the impression of an out-of-control fire as something akin to a ravening beast--very impressive, and often as not more than a little unnerving. And so for once the fire, not the fire fighters, saves the day by making the film mildly enjoyable. If you can ignore the inaccuracies and take the film as a special effects film akin to the likes of VOLCANO, which had an equally silly premise, you'll probably enjoy it. Just don't expect to come out of it with even a remote idea of how fire fighters actually work. Final thought: rent it first, because one time through will probably be enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hot action and even hotter men, May 11 2002
This review is from: Backdraft (VHS Tape)
I love the film 'Backdraft'.Many firefighters watching have criticised it but it's not real life is it? The film stars a very good-looking William Baldwin and a muscley looking Kurt Russell.They star as the McCaffrey brothers,whose father was killed in a fire years before.The two feuding siblings are forced to work with each other in the same firefighting unit which neither is happy about.Stephen (Russell) feels he has to protect his younger brother and Brian (Baldwin)feels he has to do well in front of his 'kick-[bootie]' firefighter big brother.It is good to see Russell attempt some emotional roles and he plays his brotherly role well,the scenes where Brian rescues a mannequin and Stephen chases him up to the fire-station roof always have me laughing as well as the 'War' song.And the wonderful lines 'Look at him,that's my brother ...' and 'who's your brother Brian' have me blubbing like a baby 10 minutes before they even come on.The great scenes with Stephen fixxing Brian's fire-suit always get to me too.Brothers hey,you gotta love them and this film is such a great example of fire,bravery and brotherly love.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MUltiple plots well connected, Aug. 20 2001
This review is from: Backdraft (VHS Tape)
Backdraft has an excellent cast that meshes well together. It has several plots, a serial arsonist, economic cutbacks and two brothers working in the shadow of their fireman hero father - klolled in the line of duty.
This whole film works well. DeNiro is excellent as the arson investigator for the fire department. Russell and Baldwin are also compelling as two brothers - one a career firefighter and the other a novice who turns to the firedepartment only after all other ventures have fizzeled out.
Both brothers are complex. Russell is seperated from his wife - or maybe divorced that part is a little vague. What has driven them apart is his attitude towards the job and the emotional toll it is taking on his wife who wants to raise her son in a more normal environment. Baldwin on the other hand, is trying to work under his brother's pressure and the shadow of his dead father.
While some actors and actresses have short screen time, DeMornay and Sutherland, they are critical to the overall success of the film.
The alderman and mayor wannabe is the perfect sleezy corrupt politician who knows no bounds in getting his politcal career advanced. The fact that he is getting associates killed is of little seeming consequence.
The fire screens were excellent. You could almost feel the heat of the flames.
The funeral cortege through the streets of Chicago are breath-taking and moving. The camera cutting to the massed ranks of firemen, is breath-taking. The music is magnificent and makes the scene more telling.
In all, this is an excellent adventure and mystery film that is a fine work depicting the life of firemen in a major metropolitan city. I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Great Effects..., July 23 2001
By 
Backdraft is the story of two feuding brothers tryng to keep the legacy of the McCaffrey fire fighting clan going. Steven (Kurt Russell) does a suberb job as the leutinunt of station 17 in Chicago. He has a more succesful job as a fireman than his brother Brian (William Balwin). Baldwin, does an outstanding job as well as his older brother. Brian quit fire once and decides to try it one more time. He ends up quitting halfway thru the movie. Detective Rimgale does what i think is the best job of any actor in Backdraft. His role played by Robert DeNiro is to find out whether the fire is natural or arson. Donald Suthrland, although not in it too much, does a great job playing phsycho, Ronald Bartel. Ronald helps Brian find the killer. John "Axe" Adcox is played by Scott Glenn. He does a fine job as the senior fireman. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Jennifer, Brian's girlfriend. She could've done a better job playing her role. Rebecca DeMornay plays Steven's ex-wife. She does not appear a whole lot. Fire is the main character in this film. It has awe-inspiring special effects and some of the most amazing fire scenes ever caught on tape.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great fire scenes, great actors, poor story, May 22 2001
Despite the hokey storyline of two brothers locked in enmity working for the same firehouse company, this movie is worth watching for the excellent fire scenes. But cadet firefighters beware: this movie is NOT NFPA APPROVED. The firefighters in this movie scorn protective gear, spurn self-contained breathing apparatus, and breach 100 other firefighting regs all in the name of maverick machismo. And the hero plies the heroine with his, er, hose atop the hoses on an Engine. Definitely not usage as per regulations and would earn a severe reprimand. After all, it results in a life threatening delay in deploying the 2-1/2 inch while a brassiere is untangled from it. A funny part to watch for is the catchphrase 'It's in the walls!' as smoke gets mysteriously sucked back I suppose into the walls leaving the structure unblackened and unscorched, just as if the video had been reversed. Oh yeah, duh. Anyway, great cameos by grouchy investigator De Niro and twisted arsonist Sutherland. Watch it, enjoy it, suspend disbelief during it. The first rescue scene for example. Even wearing bunker gloves a firefighter should take that pronounced a degree of rigor mortis as clear evidence of what is technically referred to in the trade as "dead".
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Backdraft (2-disc Anniversary Edition) (Bilingual)
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