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Backdraft (1991)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  24 May 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 55,333 users   Metascore: 38/100
Reviews: 132 user | 60 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

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



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen McCaffrey
Tim Krizminski
Alderman Marty Swayzak
Anthony Mockus Sr. ...
Chief John Fitzgerald (as Tony Mockus Sr.)
Cedric Young ...
Juan Ramírez ...
Kevin Casey ...


A rookie firefighter tries to earn the respect of his older brother and other firefighters while taking part in an investigation of a string of arson/murders. This detailed look into the duties and private lives of firemen naturally features widespread pyrotechnics and special effects. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In that instant it can create a hero... or cover a secret. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and a scene of sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 May 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Marea de fuego  »

Box Office


$77,868,585 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (QSound) (70 mm prints)| (DTS HD Master Audio)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the boat party, Alderman Swayzak (J.T. Walsh) asks his aide Jennifer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who a guest is, and she says the man's name is DeWaay. Larry DeWaay is a co-producer for Backdraft. See more »


When Rimgale has Brian lift the trash can to prove his theory on how the arsonist was creating backdrafts, Rimgale is smoking a cigarette. The cigarette repeatedly changes length becoming longer and shorter, and then longer again in each shot of Rimgale. There is no time for Rimgale to smoke a whole cigarette, then light another one and smoke most of another in this short scene. See more »


Lt. Steven McCaffrey: [to Brian] You got a real short memory for following direct orders... I told you to stay right beside me.
See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus (1993) See more »


Written by Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong
Performed by Edwin Starr
Courtesy of Motown Record Company L.P.
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User Reviews

Thin story, but diffucult to dislike.
14 May 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have seen this movie many times noe, and I can understand that many people slam this film for being corny and unrealistic. And they are right, it is corny, but it is acted and directed with conviction, that it is hard for me not to like it. The core of the movie the story of 2 feuding firefighter brothers played by Kurt Russell and Adam Baldwin. This part of the story may be cliched, but the 2 actors do a good job in their roles, especially Russell, he plays the elder brother, trying to protect his screwup younger brother from the dangers of firefighting. The other parts are less successful, there is a subplot involving the wife of Russell's wife inabilty to deal with his risk taking in his job, Rebecca DeMornay does what she can with a small role. The other subplot of the story is the one that doesn't work, it involves the murders of financial experts hire by a city alderman to close down firestations for financial gain. This part of the story should have been scrapped, it just chops up screen time and is never compelling. That leaves the action scenes, they are spectacular. The fire scenes keep you on the edge of your seat. The special effects are great, but even though the script is corny the actors made me care enough for what was happening to them. It is directed by Ron Howard, who usually is more successful in the human side of the story, he seems to have spent more time on the technical side of the story than the human side. Too bad, even though I like this film, it misses greatness due to a weak script.

Grade: B

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