Backdraft

“Backdraft” has not aged well. Granted, it’s hard to say how well this movie was received when it opened (I’m going to date myself here, but when it hit theaters, I was nine), but it’s been almost twenty years, and what worked back then does not work anymore.

 

Now, that’s not to say it’s a horrible experience – my movie buddy and I have a fabulous time watching it, but it’s not a comedy; we were just having a good laugh at the movie’s expense.

 

“Backdraft,” directed by Ron Howard, is the story of two brothers, Stephen (Kurt Russell) and Brian (William Baldwin). Their dad was a firefighter who was killed in action when the boys were young, and the ‘family business’ both draws and repels them.

Stephen has become a bad-ass but reckless firefighter, while Brian dropped out of the academy earlier in his life, but at the beginning of the film has graduated and finds himself in the same firehouse as his estranged brother.

 

That’s a solid enough story, but then, in a nod to conventionality, the brothers must learn to work together to stop an killer arsonist on the loose.

Sigh. There’s also some other stuff that happens, the effects are pretty cool, but really, there is a bit too much story here to leave room for anything good. “Backdraft” could have been a compelling family drama with a firefighting/tragedy backdrop. Or it could have been a thrilling action picture about a hunt for a dastardly arsonist.

But instead of excelling in any one area, it went and failed at both; “Backdraft” limps to the finish, with every bit of its conventional storytelling weighing it down.

 

Backdraft” (1991)

Written by Gregory Widen

Directed by Ron Howard

Starring: Kurt Russell (Stephen)

William Baldwin (Brian)