Firestorm
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2006
As a real-life wildland firefighter I am here to tell you that this movie is perfection and grace. The writers themselves must have eaten smoke in some former life. Indeed they nailed every aspect of wildland firefighting. From DOC crews who are chained to their bus while traveling to the fire and released with a potential deadly weapon in a camouflage ridden forest---to Howie's masterful portrayal of a smokejumper with a heart and the childlike demeanor of an alcoholic scoutmaster, this film is pure gold. If one flaw should be cited, it is, that the incendiary, helicopter launched, ping pong ball machine failed to explode with enough devastating force! Firefighters know that ping pong balls do not make a grenade sized explosions, but one more akin to a bunker buster launched from an F16. The chainsaw scene took my breath away, Howie's acting was certainly slighted by a lack of an academy nomination. The fire at the movie's end was the first true-to-life portrayal of a wildland fire since the Lions Gate film 'Superfire'. It is comforting to know that someone realizes wildland fires travel at speeds exceeding 125 miles per hour and rip mature pine trees out by their roots hurling them a quarter mile or more. Thank you Howie, you're the man!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This movie only lasts for barely 89 minutes. This makes me wonder if anything was cut out of the movie in the editing room. I think there was when I watch the film. It could have been so much more. What's left is a very brief and entertaining movie about a prison break. With very little Firestorm.

Many people have said that Howie Long's performance in this film is quite poor. I think that he did a fine job. I can honestly say his performance is totally adequate. William Forsythe is quite a decent villain too. Neither hammy nor campy. I'm glad he was in the movie.

But I'm not glad the film was a flop. It would have been a big hit if it was longer and had more plot. You can't call a film FIRESTORM and have only a few seconds worth of fire in it. I don't know what has been cut from this film but it has damaged it severely. Chris Soth is the only person credited with writing this film but rumor has it that Graeme Yost actually wrote the first draft but used his affiliation with the of the WGA to take if off after they hashed his script around too much.

Although it is bare-boned and anorexic it is still a cool film to watch.

It really would benefit from a Blu Ray release though.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2005
A macho movie -- just means that the guys are out there doing their job with a few nuts thrown in.

I am always looking for Scott Glenn's movies and enjoy the few that I have.

I have always had the greatest respect for paratroopers covering any job. I can't imagine a job much more dangerous. You got to admire these guys.

Loved the movie and all the color - the terrain - the characters - and hey, how about that heliocopter pilot. Wow! look at that long hair.

Would love to have had a feature on the making of the movie.

Oh, and Howie Long still looks better that the baby faced actors being used today.

Well worth seeing - will be added to my collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sports stars turned actors have never been serious threats at the Academy awards, and big Howie Long is certainly no exception. However, with his buff bod, icy blue eyes and a hint of malevolent humor, he acquits himself quite nicely in this blazing adventure. He plays the news fire chief of the Smoke Jumpers when buddy Scott Glenn is injured in a frightening opening rescue scene. The pyrotechnics in this movie are awesome and heat up the screen (ha ha). Suzy Amis is fun as the ornithologist who just happens to walk into the thick of things; William Forsythe is painfully effective as the cold-hearted killer who offs his prison escapee buddies so he can get all of his 37,000,000 dollars! There are some mind-blowing fire scenes and the firestorm itself is awesome.
A great kickbutt type of movie, and Howie's the man!!!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2002
I never understood why Howie Long doesn't make more like this. I think he did a fine job. Good perfomances by Scott Glen and William Forsythe as well. Forsythe has bad guys down to an art. If you liked action films like "Cliffhanger" with Sylvester Stallone, "Diehard" with Bruce Willis, "The Fugitive" with Harrison Ford, or "Shoot to Kill" with Tom Berenger you should like this. This is as good as many I have seen by these actors. While fighting a fire a group of convicts escape and Howie must stop them from kidnapping his friends. I would say give the critics the axe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2000
I take a screenwriting class taught by the man who wrote this script. If only you all could read the version of this film he wrote before the studios got their cheap, dirty little hands on it. I wish I could tell you the differences without putting all his ideas out there to be stolen (yes, stolen, they were that good). I'm so sorry the original scripted version of this fell through the cracks.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 1999
I enjoyed this action movie and especially after having seen Howie in Broken Arrow (not enough and a bad guy). He shows off his acting ability in Firestorm and once again there's also the action. I plan to add it to my home collection when the price drops!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 17, 2010
Although a commercial flop, Firestorm (1998) is moderately entertaining, and features ex-football player Howie Long's first, and possibly last appearance, as the lead in an action movie.

Drafted by the Raiders out of Villanova, Long had a Hall of Fame career in the NFL as a defensive lineman. After his final appearance in the Pro Bowl at the end of the 1993 season, Long retired and went into broadcasting, working as an analyst for the FOX network. Also interested in acting, Long turned in a strong performance in the action flick Broken Arrow (1996), before being selected to play Jesse Graves, a Colorado firefighter, in Firestorm.

Prisoner Randall Shaye (William Forsythe) organizes and executes a plan to escape from prison. Part of a work detail in the woods to fight a fire, Shaye and his accomplices ambush the guards, and take control. Locking the guards and prisoners in a bus, Shaye and his group head into the woods, disguised as Canadian firefighters, and are soon joined by Jennifer (Suzy Amis), a bird researcher trapped by the fire. Graves is in a plane assessing the course of the fire, when he spots Shaye's group headed for trouble, and parachutes down to help. The fake firefighters soon show their true colors, and Jesse and Jennifer are soon on the run.

Firestorm isn't terribly deep, sophisticated or realistic. Until the very end, the fire is mostly a backdrop for the action. The comic book type script, definitely benefits from William Forsythe's severely overdone performance as the greedy Randall Shaye, a man that takes great pleasure in killing his colleagues, to avoid sharing stolen loot. Long's acting is far from polished, and his wide eyed stares are not always planned, but he is a very likeable guy, and does makes a very earnest effort. The production apparently had to accommodate Long's schedule, as part of the film was supposedly shot during football season. On weekends, Long had to fly from the film set to FOX's studios to cover the games. Suzy Amis keeps things from being an all male affair, Scott Glenn appears as a firefighter, and Barry Pepper plays Shaye's longest lasting accomplice.

Mostly confined to a burning forest, the action sequences though not spectacular, are nicely executed. Really throwing an axe while swimming isn't easy! What does not hold up well are the CGI special effects for the fire. These sequences did not look very realistic in 1998, and are even less convincing now. Parts of the final firestorm sequence look pretty fake and weak, although after Shaye makes a miraculous return from the dead, the matchhead scene is quite a nice touch.

Whether it was the rigors of filming Firestorm, the film's poor box office performance, family concerns, or other reasons, Howie Long did not venture into the action genre again. He continues to work as an analyst for FOX, and occasionally acts and appears in commercials. Aside from highlights from his playing days, Firestorm is probably your best opportunity to see Howie in action in his prime.
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on March 13, 2001
...Firestorm: Blazing Inferno is worth its price. The footage is first person, similar to a newsreporter. It's independently filmed...basically someone with a video camera but at least he kept the camera steady and microphone off. There is no "on scene" narration or sound but there is a general voiceover of what the footage shows. Such as, "The intense winds force the firefighters to retreat to the coast to make their stand. They try to save this building for an hour but abandon the effort when they run out of water and the roof catches fire." An electric guitar music clip plays in the background but fortunately it isn't annoying Heavy Metal or Hard Rock.
The first tape is about the 1993 in Southern California. The footage shows the fire spreading all the way to the coast and talks about its day-to-day progress like a newsreel. It's 27 minutes long.
The second tape focuses on structure fire clips in progress across America and another Southern CA wildfire. This tape is 23 minutes long.
All tapes are edited and shows water being poured on the fire for a few minutes and then the fire as extinguished before moving to the next clip.
Firestorm doesn't show fire fighting procedures, equipment, tactics, battleplan, or interviews with the firefighters and public. It does show the vehicles briefly (but not closeups). Essentially, it's a cameraman who hitched a ride on a firetruck, got off, and filmed from hotspot to hotspot.
Firestorm does convey the sense of power and awe seeing a wildfire. Highly recommended for the low price.
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on July 15, 2010
B+ as popcorn movie. A for concept.

As typical of the genre, this (Firestorm with Howie Long) is not a "deep" film and the plot is formulaic -- hero takes great risks but saves the girl and gets the ruthless bad guys who seem at times invincible. The acting is better than typical for the genre though not brilliant. The photography is very enjoyable.

What is really wonderful is the forest-fire fighting context. There are not that many films that do a decent job of putting people in forest fire situations. We get to see here quite a lot of great shots of distant and near forests burning and can fairly well imagine what it can be like trying to get around in them and fight them. Of course fires differ a lot and there may not be a typical wildfire. But the shots are good. I dearly wish this DVD had come with a "making of." As one interested in film-making, it was not obvious and I feel it would have been worth letting us in.

This is a terrific break from high-speed auto chases and all the other worn cliches in "action films." It took some imagination and talent to pull off. It is a keeper for me.
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