Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 


A raging forest fire sets the stage for a daring prison break in this action adventure film starring former football great Howie Long, who makes his motion picture starring debut portraying fearless ‘smokejumper’, Jesse Graves. When Graves parachutes into the middle of a forest inferno, he inadvertently exposes a gang of escaped convicts, disguised as firefighters. With a few tools and no back up, he must try to outsmart a cunning killer (William Forsythe) and save an innocent hostage (Suzy Amis). His friend and mentor, Wynt Perkins (Scott Glenn) tries desperately to find him, but the fire is turning and time is running out.

"Formulaic, contrived and predictable, Firestorm doesn’t blow much smoke for Dean Semler’s anticipated directorial debut. While Stephen Windon’s cinematography makes the most of the stunning Vancouver scenery and spectacular fire action sequences, Semler’s direction is sluggish, dull and uninspiring. It is a shame how a film about such a passionate subject - heroic firefighters parachuting directly into the heart of raging forest fires - can end up so trite and Hollywood B grade. And trite is the word that comes to mind, about Chris Soth and Graham Yost’s script which seems to voice all the cliches in the book. "Can’t slow the sonovabitch down" the hero booms; "Nice work," cooes the girl, as she jumps onto the back of a speeding motorcycle which zooms away on what should be a thrilling escape sequence. Howie Long makes his starring debut as the muscly heroic fireman, Jesse, with the handsome California look and pearly whites to match. A former football star, Long has the looks and physique to fit the plastic action-star mould: one of the principal reasons Semler took on the project is the belief in Long’s potential. Suzie Amis complements him as the bird-lover with good bone structure, waterproof mascara and good survival skills. There are plenty of stunts, making Firestorm more visual flair than heart. There’s no subtlety here, and like the music, which is rather heavy handed, overpowers rather than enhancing or builds dramatic tension. No adversary is more powerful than the contagious, spreading flames that devour the forests. Pity we have to pour cold water on it."
Louise Keller

"Firestorm does for wilderness fires what Volcano did for volcanic eruptions – reduce them to ashes. There is little left of the real drama that attends firefighting in the rough mountains of Northern America, because it has been replaced by a plastic story in which unaccountably fake things happen. The story of a massive fire and the men who struggle to contain it is felt too puny, so a prison break is superimposed on the storyline. The baddie is in the boo hiss villain category, and the goodie, Ken, who rescues Barbie - actually, they look like Howie Long and Suzy Amis – is the typical clean cut American hero. People do things that defy reality, thus turning the film into a hokey exercise in superficial excitement. There is a lack of imagination in the script and in the direction, which is not compensated by Steve Windon’s effective photography. Not only is it too predictable, it is dramatically flat."
Andrew L. Urban

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Unfavourable: 3



CAST: Howie Long, Scott Glenn, Suzy Amis, William Forsythe, Christianne Hirt, Garwin Sanford, Sebastian Spence, Michael Greyeyes, Barry Pepper, Vladimir Kulich, Tom McBeath, Benjamin Ratner, Jonathon Young

PRODUCER: Tom M. Hammel, Matthew Weisman, Joseph Loeb III

DIRECTOR: Dean Semler

SCRIPT: Chris Soth, Graham Yost


EDITOR: Jack Hofstra

MUSIC: J. Peter Robinson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Paris, Linda Del Rosario

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes





"Formulaic, contrived and predictable, Firestorm doesn’t blow much smoke for Dean Semler’s anticipated directorial debut." Louise Keller


"Firestorm does for wilderness fires what Volcano did for volcanic eruptions – reduce them to ashes," Andrew L. Urban


"Firestorm is a half-baked B movie designed to launch Howie Long - former NFL star and current Fox Sports commentator - as the next action hero." Joe Leydon, Variety


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