Friday January 9, 1998
"Firestorm" is as elementary as action pictures get, but it moves as fast as the raging forest fire it captures so spectacularly well. There's not much time to dwell on plot developments that don't bear close scrutiny in the first place.
"Firestorm" works well as a mindless diversion under cinematographer-turned-director Dean Semler's punchy, efficient helming and has engaging stars in Howie Long, the former football great and current Fox NFL commentator, Scott Glenn, Suzy Amis and William Forsythe as a villain so evil you wish he had a mustache to twirl. Indeed, "Firestorm" has the primitive appeal of early silents with their melodrama, derring-do and last-second rescues.
A rugged giant of a man with an open countenance and a sly sense of humor, Long is perfect casting as a Wyoming wilderness hero. He's a smoke-jumper, along with his mentor Glenn, and they're faced with a doozy of a fire--two of them, in fact, all set to converge on the bad guys as well as the good guys. Forsythe, a state prison inmate, has devised a way to escape, pass himself off as a firefighter and then head for wherever it is he has hidden $37 million stolen off a train at the cost of 17 lives.
Neither he nor his fellow escapees has much of a sense of direction, but they do know enough to take ornithologist Amis hostage. By the time the picture is over, debuting writer Chris Soth has come up with more perils than Pauline ever faced and has even fashioned some decent repartee for Long and Amis.
Although "Firestorm" plays like a TV adventure, it has big-screen panache in its stunts, camerawork and special effects. J. Peter Robinson's score underlines the action strongly. And that forest fire really looks to be out of control.
Firestorm, 1998. R, for violence and language. A 20th Century Fox presentation. Director Dean Semler. Producers Joseph Loeb III, Matthew Weisman and Thomas M. Hammel. Executive producer Louise Rosner. Screenplay by Chris Soth. Cinematographer Stephen F. Windon. Editor Jack Hofstra. Costumes Bruce Finlayson, Carla Hetland. Music J. Peter Robinson. Production designers Richard Paris and Linda Del Rosario. Set decorator Dominique Fauquet-Lemaitre. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Howie Long as Jesse. Scott Glenn as Wynt. William Forsythe as Shaye. Suzy Amis as Jennifer.