In case you haven’t noticed… we’re not firemen.
Director: Dean Semler
Starring: Howie Long, Scott Glenn
Synopsis: As the opening title card helpful informs us, smokejumpers are elite firefighters who parachute into areas that would be inaccessible for other firefighting units and vehicles. Howie Long plays Jesse, the best smoke jumper to ever jump out of an airplane. During a dry season inmates from a nearby prison plan to start a forest fire to cover their daring escape. Lead by the sadistic prisoner Shaye (William Forsyth) they inmates pretend to be firefighters and begin to make their way through the Wyoming wilderness. Only Jesse can stop them, and also fight the biggest forest fire that Wyoming has ever seen!
Why it fails as a movie: Although the movie is called Firestorm and makes you think that it is going to be a movie about smoke-jumpers, Firestorm has very little to do with fires or fire fighting. In fact, the movie really is not about smoke jumping at all. The only time that we really get to see Jesse in action as a jumper is at the very beginning where him and his team jump into an inferno to save a little girl from a burning house. It’s a shlock filled scene but not entirely un-enjoyable. But that never happens again! We only see Jesse parachute one more time and that is it. We never actually see him fighting a fire again throughout the whole movie. Most of the plot is about the escaped inmates making their way across Wyoming and Jesse attempting to stop them. Unfortunately, this plot is the main plot and is pretty uninteresting. I am baffled by the choice to try to “spice up” the story of smoke jumpers. You would think that a story about people who parachute into forest fires would be exciting enough on its own without a convoluted escape plot. What this seems to me is an example of the studio having two separate scripts that they could develop, but instead of making two movies they just smashed the scripts together and made one. I truly believe that a movie about smoke jumpers would actually be very interesting. We just need someone to make it right and without a crazy plot.
Is it worth watching: The prisoner stuff is fun but not super enjoyable. A few laughs are to be had, but for the most part it is hard to be engaged in anything that is happening on screen. There are definitely some action scenes that are fun in a bad B-movie way, but overall Firestorm just left me frustrated. I really wanted to watch a bad movie about firefighters. I was expecting lots of fire related puns and some sweet burn suit stunt work. But very little of that happens until the very end. Unfortunately, I can not decide if making it to the end is actually worth it. You have to trudge through a lot of bland moments to get there. Firestorm is not a miserable bad movie. It has some fun moments, but overall is just forgettable. I am not going to strongly recommend it, but if you want to watch a bad movie you can definitely do worse. The last 10 minutes are absolutely golden, so it might be worth suffering through for that.
Rating as a real movie: 2/10
Rating as a bad movie: 7/10