"Is it hot in here to anyone else?"Backdraft
is 1991 American action-drama film directed by Ron Howard
and written by Gregory Widen. The film stars Kurt Russell
, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro
and Scott Glenn. Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh
, Rebecca DeMornay, Jason Gedrick, Hardy Patel, Brian Jaramillo and JT Walsh co-star in the film.
In The Windy City
, young Brian McCaffery (William Baldwin) is a man going from one dead-end job to another, until he gets it in his head to be a firefighter alongside his brother, Stephen "Bull" McCaffery (Kurt Russell), and the men of the Engine 17 crew. Brian's past precedes him; he was photographed at the scene of his firefighter father's death by arson, as he watched from the ground. Now, in the present day, another arsonist has killed two city officials, and after Brian is transferred to the investigative division of the Fire Department, it is up to him and arson investigator Donald "Shadow" Rimgale (Robert De Niro) to sniff out the arsonist before anyone else is torched.
Not to be confused with Internet Backdraft
This movie contains examples of:
- All-Star Cast: De Niro, Russel, Sutherland, a Baldwin brother.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Trychtichlorate.
- Arson Crazy: Ronald Bartel
Shadow: What do you want to do to the world, Ronald?
Ronald: Burn it, burn it all.
- Benevolent Architecture: While chemical factories would have pipes, none of them are greased for sliding.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with the second probie, Krizminski. He ignores Bull's orders and punches directly into a hot room, triggering another backdraft. He survives, but horribly burned and disfigured.
- Big "NO!": Brian when he sees Bull and "Axe" Adcox fall. Adcox hits a barrel on the way down and dies instantly. Bull ends up half-impaled on wreckage; he survives the fall but dies on the way to the hospital.
- Breaking Speech: Donald Sutherland's movie-stealing scene.
- California Doubling: Mostly averted. All the scenes at Bull's boat were shot on the bank of the Chicago River; the big drawbridge in the background still exists, and operates, in Chicago as of 2013.
- Consulting A Convicted Arsonist: Brian approaches an imprisoned serial arsonist, Ronald Bartel, when in need of assistance in finding the missing links between a string of recent fires that seem to be connected.
- Emergency Services
- Empathy Helmet Shot
- Energy Beings: Sorta. Both Bartel and Rimgale describe fire as an animal and as a sentient predator as a way to understand how it behaves.
- Firemen Are Hot
- Government Conspiracy: A local one; Swayzak made several backdoor deals with local businessmen (included a forged manpower study) to shut down firehouses across the city and convert them into community centers, with lucrative construction contracts awarded to the conspirators.
- Heroic Fire Rescue: Several.
- Heroic Sacrifice: "Bull", both for his brother and for the Chicago FD.
- Hollywood Fire: Played straight and averted to varying degrees through the movie.
- Knight Templar: Adcox. He specifically goes after Swayzak's cronies in the firehouse closing scheme, and sets the fires up so the victims trigger backdrafts; once they explode, they blow themselves out, minimizing risk to firefighters. Unfortunately, in a high rise, there was another set of doors that held the backdraft in, and Bull's probie didn't listen...
- Make It Look Like An Accident
- Meaningful Echo : 'You go, we go.'
- "You see that glow flashing in the corner of your eye?"
- "You're doing it wrong!"
- Meaningful Funeral: Bull's funeral at the end
- Mood Whiplash: The opening; Brian as a child goes along to one of his father's responses, an apartment fire that seems mostly smouldering (all smoke). Everything is all upbeat and routine, until his father realizes there's a leaking gas line, and Adcox just released it to the fire. He throws Adcox out of the room just before the explosion consumes him, with Brian watching it all. The photo of him holding his father's burned helmet, looking up at the inferno, follows him right through adulthood (see Old Shame below).
- Na´ve Newcomer: Both Brian and the second probie.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Part of the firefighters' code. "You go, we go."
- Old Shame: The picture of Brian at his father's death continues to follow him years later.
- Parking Payback: A car is parked in front of a fire hydrant. The firefighters take a certain glee in smashing the car's windows so they can thread the hose through to the hydrant.
- Pyro Maniac: Ronald Bartel (Donald Sutherland)
- Redemption Equals Death: "Axe" Adcox.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Stephen is an excellent firefighter, but he has a rather reckless and lax attitude to procedure and the rules. This is deconstructed, in that his reckless attitude rubs off on one of his probationary firefighters with disastrous consequences; the probie is horrifically injured after not checking a door properly, and Atcox and Brian (not unfairly) blame Stephen. Although in light of Atcox being the one who's actually setting the fires, his condemnation is more than a little hypocritical.
- Sleazy Politician: Alderman Swayzak
- Sympathetic Murderer: Adcox murdered Swayzak's cronies out of anger that the alderman was gambling with firefighter's lives for monetary and political gain, and to try and save firefighter lives by stopping further closings.
- Stunt Double: Partly averted; the end credits actually include the stars among the stunt team.
- Training from Hell: Stephen singles Brian out through putting him through one of these, and it's implied that he's trying to force Brian to quit.
- Write What You Know: The film was based partly on writer Gregory Widen's experiences as a Chicago firefighter (leaving the position after one of his best friends died on the job).