Backdraft (1991)

R   |    |  Action, Crime, Drama

Backdraft (1991) Poster

Two Chicago firefighter brothers, who don't get along, have to work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.




  • William Baldwin and Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)
  • Backdraft (1991)
  • Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)
  • Backdraft (1991)
  • Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)
  • William Baldwin and Kurt Russell in Backdraft (1991)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

8 August 2005 | PersianPlaya408
| Howard's film is solid, better than you think
Ron Howard's action/thriller about two brothers (Baldwin and Russell), who have some differences but need to work together to find out whose causing recent arson fires in their district. THe film is done well, good acting for the most part, brilliant direction, and a decent screenplay. I thought William Baldwin started out the first couple scenes with a bit of a constant smirk on his face, but his acting seemed to improve (or maybe grow on me), he gave a satisfying performance. Meanwhile Russell was solid as well as his older brother who is an old-fashioned bitter fireman who takes too many risks. The female performances were rather average, Jennifer Jason Leigh was decent as Jennifer a girl who helps Brian (Baldwin). Rebecca DeMornay is not so great as Steven (Russel)'s ex-wife. Robert DeNiro was great in his role as a fire department detective trying to solve the case. J.T. Walsh was also decent in his role, which was similar but expanded in F. Gary Gray's THe Negotiator. The best performance of the film came from Scott Glenn who was great as a firefighter known as "Axe". I haven't seen Ladder49, so this is my favorite firefighter movie as of now. The script had some problems, as it didn't flow well, but the actors managed to save it although i was particularly upset with one dialogue between jennifer jason leigh and william baldwin which seemed like a complete rip-off of the scene where Michael Corleone and Kay see each other again after Michael is back from Sicily in Godfather part 1. But for the most part the script was average, not bad, but saved by brilliant direction, solid acting and great action. The music was done very well and suited the film, props to Hans Zimmer for yet another great score. The cinematography was also very good, especially in the fire scenes, good job by Mikael Salomon. 8/10

Metacritic Reviews

Critic Reviews

Did You Know?


Over 5000 firefighters volunteered to march up and down Michigan Avenue for one scene. Suburban firefighters begged to be included, but their uniforms were different. More than 200 of them showed up anyway, and marched in the back.


Brian, Age 7: Leave me alone! Will you? You think you're so smart!
Stephen, Age 12: What a geek!
Brian, Age 7: I'm not a geek!
Stephen, Age 12: You're doing it wrong.
Brian, Age 7: Shut up!
Stephen, Age 12: You're doing it wrong. it doesn't go like that.
Brian, Age 7: Who asked you?
Stephen, Age 12: Who's your brother?
Brian, Age 7: You are, Stevie.
Stephen, Age 12: That's right! If you do it like this, it'll ...


In the apartment fire, Stephen goes in to save a little boy. When there's an explosion, Brian falls back and his boots are all the way up, on another shot when he's on the floor his boots are folded down.

Alternate Versions

Network television version featured additional footage:

  • the firemen from Engine 17 visit a recently widowed firefighter's wife
  • Stephen (Kurt Russell) has an emotional scene with Inspector Rimgale (Robert De Niro) over the fire where Tim (Jason Gedrick) was burned
  • During the news conference where Alderman Swayzak (J.T. Walsh) is exposed, Brian (William Baldwin) visits Jennifer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as she is packing up her office, having recently quit.


Set Me In Motion
Written by
Bruce Hornsby (as B.R. Hornsby) & John Hornsby
Performed by Bruce Hornsby & The Range (as Bruce Hornsby and The Range)
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Music


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Action | Crime | Drama | Mystery | Thriller

Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,686,200 26 May 1991

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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