It has been 28 years since the McCaffrey brothers teamed up to fight some of the toughest fires in Chicago while trying to catch an arsonist who happened to be one of their own. The cast included Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert DeNiro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rebecca DeMornay, and Scott Glenn. To say that Backdraft was my favourite movie, at age nine, is an understatement. My mom took me to see that movie a dozen times at the local theatre. I owned the poster for many years (until I ruined it) and I have several pieces of memorabilia from the production. The movie score, by Hans Zimmer, is one of my all-time favourites. For years I always dreamt of a follow-up but would have always been content on never getting one.
Rumours started online in 2018 that a sequel was in the works. Backdraft 2 hit shelves and on-demand platforms on May 14, 2019. To be quite honest with you, this movie should have never left the warehouse, the production studio, the writer’s office, or wherever the idea for this disaster of a film was hatched. Backdraft 2 is easily one of the worse movies I have ever seen in my life, let alone how much anger it filled me with by utterly destroying the original story and the characters.
Filmed in late 2018, one would expect the fire effects and death scenes would be out of this world. I was hoping if there were actual action scenes in the film, they would rival those we’ve come to see in the Marvel blockbusters. I am going to shatter all your hopes and dreams right here by saying the special effects in this movie are so low budget, that terrible isn’t even a word to describe them. There’s one fake explosion scene where someone dies, a split second after the flame, you see the corpse with all the skin melted off. It literally looked like one of Halloween skeleton dolls that was lit on fire, they filmed it, loved it, and put in the final cut. That’s the level of effects we are working with. If you ever bother to waste 1:42 of your life, you will see exactly what I’m talking about. There’s also one other death scene where some kids get blown up while trick or treating. They get blown across the street in the worse door explosion in film history. The first Backdraft was filmed inside burning buildings, where cameramen wore protective suits to get as close to the action as possible. There’s little to no fire and action in this film, so the production money had to have been wasted on bringing back Sutherland and Baldwin for totally useless and pointless roles.
After all this complaining, I still haven’t even talked about Sean McCaffrey, played by Joe Anderson. It is not his fault for being thrown into such a God awful script, but his arrogance, poor attitude, and anger management issues really take away so much from the character and the role he has within the fire community. Personally, having trained as a firefighter, I never knew arson investigators carry guns, but these guys do work on the mean streets of Chicago, so it makes sense for arson investigators to sudden be packing some heat. Sean thinks he’s a cop/detective, firefighter, and God’s gift to the fire department. He wants to be a hero and thinks no one else is cut out for the task at hand or even to be his partner. His attitude comes from the pressure of being a McCaffrey and the legacy his grandfather and father left. He finds himself in the dumbest situations ever encountered on a fire ground and keeps himself so unkept that he couldn’t fight a fire even if he wanted to. Firefighters are not allowed to have beards, their breathing apparatus doesn’t allow, yet here is Sean rocking a bushy beard from start to finish. Real firefighters around the globe use Backdraft as instructional material. Most of the action is fabricated because firefighters don’t run into buildings without proper equipment and don’t go unshaven. These movies are almost the gold standard for firefighting movies, but take a lot of liberties to keep you entertained.
Baldwin came back to die a very unmeaningful death. When they were pitching ideas, he must have sat back and said: “Hey you’re paying me, I’ll die however you want. I’m here for the pay cheque, not my legacy”. It was so cheesy and really not dramatic enough for one of the main characters of both movies. When he “sacrifices” himself, I almost wanted to turn the movie off. There is no way a gas leak would cause such an explosion that only one person dies and everyone else is fine. When Baldwin closes the door, that was really the ultimate slap in the face to everything Backdraft ever stood for. I couldn’t turn away from this dumpster fire though, because I had to continue to see how bad things really got. In the end, all I learnt is the movie as a whole is terrible from start to finish. I say that because clearly the writers ran out of real ideas and decided it would be entertaining to watch an arson investigator chase down a nuclear warhead. Yup, this firefighter movie is all about an arson investigator struggle with his personal demons while chasing down the whereabouts of a nuclear warhead. So lame.
I bought Backdraft 2 and despite many negative reviews, had to give it a shot based on my love of the original. I can promise all of you right here and right now I will never watch this movie again and the blu-ray disc can stay on the shelf until the day I die. If you loved the first one, I beg you not to watch this one because it will tarnish any and everything you enjoyed. If you never heard of either of these movies, watch the first one and pretend this one never existed. I can never take back what I saw, but I can spread the word so others never have to sit through what I did. 0/10