Backdraft is a 1991 action film starring Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Rebecca DeMornay, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, Scott Glenn, the late J.T. Walsh and Robert De Niro.
Chicago firefighter brothers Lieutenant Stephen (Kurt Russell) and Brian (William Baldwin) become firefighters after their father Dennis (also played by Kurt Russell), who was also a firefighter was killed in a firefighting accident while saving the life of Firefighter John Adcox (Scott Glenn), who looked after them along with the other firefighters. Meanwhile, a controversial politician named Martin Swayzak (J.T. Walsh) is running for Mayor of Chicago and has made a number of budget cuts to the fire department, which angers the entire fire department and finds out that three of his friends Alan Seagrave, Donald Cosgrove and Jeffery Holcomb were killed in backdrafts in fires that were apparently set by an arsonist. Stephen is estranged from his wife Helen (Rebecca DeMornay) and son Sean due to how his occupation concerns her. Brian comes back to Chicago and sees that his girlfriend Jennifer Vatikus (Jennifer Jason Leigh) works for the City Council. Later on, Stephen and Brian find out that John Adcox is the one responsible for killing Swayzak’s friends, which disappoints them greatly.
Stephen and Brian confront John, who has now become their enemy since he was responsible for the backdrafts. Brian makes an escape down a fire escape and is blown back by an explosion and lands in an elevator shaft full of water. Brian yells out for Engine 17. Then, Brian sees Stephen and Stephen jumps and shuts off the gas valve. Stephen and Brian get out of the elevator shaft and go to look for John. While Brian and Stephen go to find their friend-turned-enemy. John pops up and knocks Brian over. Stephen corners John and he states to Stephen "I just couldn't let it go." "Yeah!" Stephen answers. Brian regains consciousness. Then, barrels blast up making the catwalk that Stephen and John are on give way. John catches on fire and pleads for Stephen to let him go. Stephen refuses to let go and replies "You go! We go!" Stephen tries to get back up on another catwalk. Unfortunately, he and John fall due to their weight. John dies due to getting burned and from an impact from the fall while Stephen gets a massive cut on his lower chest. Firefighter Nightengale and Lieutenant Pengelly come inside with a hoseline and Brian yells out to them that Stephen is hurt. Nightengale and Pengelly rush to help Stephen, but are pushed back by an explosion causing their hoseline to fly out of control. Brian goes for the hose and puts out the fires that are near Nightengale and Pengelly as the two take an injured Stephen out to the ambulance. Stephen is taken to the ambulance and tells Brian to not tell that John was behind the fires. Brian states that he won't tell about it. Brian talks to Stephen that he'll make it. Stephen dies on his way to the hospital. A funeral is then held for John and Stephen. Brian, Sean and Helen all bid farewell to Stephen.
After the funeral, Donald, Brian and the police show up and crash Swayzak's press conference and he explains to him that the police would like to know why he created the fake manpower study and how he made money off of firefighters dying (even Stephen and John). Brian tells Swayzak "You see that glow flashing in the corner of your eye? That's your career dissipation light, it just went into high gear." An aide to Swayzak announces that the press conference is over. The next day, a call comes in and Brian decides to continue his career as a firefighter despite losing his brother and his father.
Why It's Better Than Ablaze
- Better storyline.
- More likable characters.
- Little to no plot holes.
- It was interesting to see Kurt Russell play two roles in one film.
- Special effects that are even more amazing than Ablaze.
- A firefighter who has gone from good to horrid, which makes the idea for a buddy film to be more interesting.
- A better main villain played by the late J.T. Walsh.
- Gregory Widen, who wrote the film was a firefighter before he became a writer.
- Ron Howard did a better job directing than Jay Andrews did for Ablaze.
- A majority of the cast members did a lot of their own stunts and were even given credit during the ending credits.
- Stephen doesn't wear his mask at all, but he's still a heroic firefighter.
- There are some not-so-realistic things about the film.