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Backdraft Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    The New York Times Elvis Mitchell

    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.

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  • 60

    out of 100


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

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    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.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Ron Howard popcorn-muncher is sappy, not smokin'.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's a lot of CSI-type imagery here: charred, dead bodies and body parts pickled in jars. A burned body is imbedded in the windshield of a car, legs sticking straight out over the hood. Brian, Stephen, and the other firefighters face tremendous danger in burning buildings. A character dies in a fire. A fireman goes through a floor and nearly falls to his death. Another firefighter catches on fire and is severely burnt but survives. The film also depicts a couple's impending divorce. They sleep together one last time, confusing and hurting their son. There is some rear nudity (mostly male) and some sexual situations.

  • Families can talk about how Brian and Stephen's sibling rivalry affects their working relationship. Does it help or hurt their dangerous work? This may be a good time to talk to kids about how sibling rivalry affects them at school and with friends. It's also a good opportunity for divorced parents to talk to their children about how the split affected them.

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Though there's a lot of macho kidding, Brian learns the power of family and integrity.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Stephen starts a fight after drinking. Lots of dead bodies; people catch on fire and nearly die.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Two couples have sex, though not explicitly on-screen. Some shots show rear male nakedness.

  • language false3

    Language: Fairly mild for the R rating.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some drinking, and Donald constantly smokes while investigating fires.