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Based on 12 Reviews
critic reviews (10)
fan reviews ( 0 )
  • 75
    Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

    What I regret is that all of the expertise lavished on this movie couldn't have been put at the service of a more intelligent story about real firemen, real working conditions, real heroism, and the real craft and art of fire-fighting. show more

  • 25
    Rick Groen The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

    The flames sure look real, but everything else in Backdraft, director Ron Howard's inflatable ode to firefighters, seems about as genuine as a plastic log in an electric hearth. Howard's particular type of schmaltz works well enough in small dabs on comic canvases (Splash, Cocoon, even Parenthood), but pumped up to heroic proportions, the sentimentality is just plain silly - in this case, cheap melodrama on a two-hour jag. show more

  • 60
    TV Guide

    Not only do the firefighting scenes evoke a feeling of gritty authenticity, but the fire itself really does seem to be alive. show more

  • 40
    Austin Chronicle

    Absolutely marvelous special effects are the salvation and the curse of this movie. show more

  • 75
    Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly

    Fire, as this movie makes clear, is nothing if not photogenic, and Howard has done a beautiful job of conjuring both its danger and its deceptive, primal beauty. show more

  • 60

    Visually, [the film] often is exhilarating, but it's shapeless and dragged down by corny, melodramatic characters and situations. show more

  • 50
    Elvis Mitchell The New York Times

    While Mr. Howard ably maintains a strong forward momentum, Backdraft often feels directionless beneath its overlay of frantic activity. One clear story line would have been worth more than a series of subplots and tangents. show more

  • 50
    Stanley Kauffmann The New Republic

    It's sad to see two talented actresses, Rebecca de Mornay and Jennifer Jason Leigh, wasted in puppet parts. [17 June 1991, p.28] show more

  • 40
    Jonathan Rosenbaum Chicago Reader

    Howard, as usual, seems bent on mixing genres to make several movies at once--monster movie, crime movie, coming-of-age movie, and action-adventure movie (among others)--yielding an overall narrative that's not boring but not especially suspenseful or focused either. show more

  • 30
    Desson Thomson Washington Post

    Director Howard is so mesmerized by the flames, he squirts formulaic lighter fluid over everything. A conflagration of hyped-up movie cliches, courtesy of George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic special effects shop, scalds your face. show more

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