Backdraft (1991)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Detective Film, Disaster Film  |   Release Date - May 24, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 138 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Mike DiBella

Quite possibly one of the best films ever made about arson and firefighting, Backdraft has a throwback feel and pays homage to the disaster-thriller tradition. The well-spun script keeps the viewer glued as intriguing fire detective work unfolds, and benefits additionally from the blend of Ron Howard's use of pyrotechnic special effects with some superb acting, a combination which lends glamour to the already-romanticized world of firefighting. Although the anthropomorphisizing of fire is a bit heavy-handed and the sub-plots extraneous and far-flung, Backdraft's twisting narrative is tightly wrapped and makes for some good, nailbiting entertainment. Robert De Niro and Donald Sutherland give excellent performances in their respective roles as the fire chief sleuth and the depraved arsonist, and Kurt Russell and Billy Baldwin are also solid as firefighting sibling rivals. Despite its blockbuster appeal and budget, audiences responded lukewarmly to its somewhat far-fetched concept and the result was a lackluster showing at the box office.