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The sons of a Chicago fireman who gave his life in the performance of his duties, firefighting brothers Kurt Russell and William Baldwin carry their lifelong sibling rivalry into their work. Russell is convinced that Baldwin hasn't got what it takes to remain in the fire department. Baldwin is transferred to a "safe" assignment, assisting arson investigator Robert DeNiro, who is trying to make sense of a series of fires involving an oxygen-induced ball of fire called a backdraft. The investigation reveals a link between corrupt alderman J. T. Walsh and imprisoned pyromaniac… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Backdraft has some of the raw filmmaking excitement that has been missing from Howard's recent work."
‑ Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"The fire sequences are stunning, and the build-up to them, complete with blaring sirens and bellowed conversations, has an aggressive immediacy."
‑ , Time Out
"Absolutely fantastic setpieces strung along an absolutely dimwitted script."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Backdraft may not be a very good movie, but it sure is great entertainment."
‑ David Cornelius,
"An extremely old-fashioned tale about heroic firefighters (rival siblings...) with some good special effects, this is a typical Ron Howard picture in its middlebrow sensibility and sentimentality."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Visually, pic often is exhilarating, but it's shapeless and dragged down by corny, melodramatic characters and situations."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The spectacular fire sequences, which must have been hellish to film, are powerfully enveloping on screen, thanks especially to the eerie effect of the title."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Manipulative? Yes. But damn, citywide funerals, a cranked score, and some Baldwin blue steel redemption poses clears away any irksome storytelling dissatisfaction."
‑ Brian Orndorf,
"The film exploits Chicago's terrain of ethnic neighborhoods, political turf, and glorious modern architecture, but it has trouble when it comes in close to the personal level."
‑ Kathleen Maher, Austin Chronicle
"simultaneously overblown and threadbare"
‑ Christopher Null,
"Visually speaking, the film does pretty well with fire-as-spectacle, less well with everything else (Howard tends to trot out fuzzy-toned Spielbergian backlighting on any pretext)."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Backdraft is sure to do for fire what The Poseidon Adventure did for water."
‑ Rita Kempley, Washington Post
"Ron Howard popcorn-muncher is sappy, not smokin'."
‑ Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
"It's spectacular, yes, but that's not all. Not only do the firefighting scenes evoke a feeling of gritty authenticity, but the fire itself really does seem to be alive."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Exciting firefighter adventures with all-star cast."
‑ Steve Crum, Kansas City Kansan
More reviews for Backdraft on Rotten Tomatoes

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