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Backdraft (1991)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  24 May 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 54,827 users   Metascore: 38/100
Reviews: 131 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


Silently behind a door, it waits. 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?


The Character of Donald Rimgale is always referred to as "Inspector" but his actual rank is Captain as evidenced by his helmet and his dress uniform. This means he is a senior inspector who probably commands others of lower rank. 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: Who's your brother Brian?
Firefighter Brian McCaffrey: You are Steven.
See more »


Referenced in 15 Minutes (2001) See more »


Nothing For You
Written by Michael Stuart Kirkpatrick (as Michael S. Kirkpatrick) & Kathleen Keane
Performed by The Drovers
See more »

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User Reviews

Firefighting Legacy
5 February 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Although Backdraft got Oscar nominations for Best Sound and best visual and audio effects what drives this Ron Howard film is the performances he got from Kurt Russell and Billy Baldwin as the firefighting McCaffrey brothers.

The brothers have a lot of distance in their ages as Russell practically raised McCaffrey after their firefighter father was killed on the job. Baldwin realizes he has a big legacy with the Chicago Fire Department and he's hesitant about it. After some issues with Russell, Baldwin gets assigned to arson investigator Robert DeNiro.

Which gets Baldwin involved in DeNiro's investigation of some strange arson fires that were set to Backdraft and cause homicides and there is a connection between three seemingly unrelated deaths.

The fire effects were great and the location shooting in Chicago a definite plus. Backdraft is the kind of a film you just cannot make on a studio back-lot which 50 years ago it would have been.

I'm surprised some Oscar nominations didn't come for either Russell or Baldwin. Their performances are so good you forget they're actors and you think you are watching firefighting drama.

And Donald Sutherland's bit role as the Hannibal the Cannibal of arsonists is one you'll remember. He has two scenes, one with DeNiro at a parole hearing and later one with Baldwin as Baldwin seeks expert opinion on the arsonist's technique. In that scene Sutherland evokes Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter when FBI agent Jodie Foster seeks his expertise.

And this review is dedicated to all the firefighters all over the world who take on that terribly important job to protect citizens from flame. After watching Backdraft you might get an insight into why the ancient cave people worshiped this phenomenon.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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