Bullet Points: Firestorm
The action film Firestorm is headed up by one of my favorite NFL players of all time; Howie Long. He was a beast among men with the Raiders and his squared jaw-line and awesome flat-top were well-equipped for a life in front of the cameras as a leading man. His first try as the leading man might not be First Blood but he’s still better than Mark Wahlberg.
The Gist: Wildland firefighter Jesse Graves is thrust into a life and death situation but this time he is fighting more than just walls of flames and heat enough to roast a man. This time he fights against a group of escaped convicts with ill intent. The murdering psychopath Shaye will do whatever it takes to get his freedom and only Jesse can stop his escape into civilization.
The Cast: NFL legend Howie Long was awarded the starring role in Firestorm after his work in the John Travolta/Christian Slater film Broken Arrow. Since then Long has appeared opposite several other action stars and while I’ve always found him a great bit player, I just don’t believe Howie had what it took to be the lead. While his work here was decent, especially for a first attempt, I think that the character of Jesse Graves lacked a specific quality that makes a great role; conflict. A true hero needs something more than just goodness to do what he does. That is why Batman is so much more interesting as a character than Superman. If Long had lost a partner or his family to a fire than it would have made Firestorm a much more thrilling ride.
Making bandannas cool again.
The Villain: William Forsythe is up there with my favorite bad guy actors. The man really does seem like he has a screw loose and that bleeds into his performance. As Shaye, Forsythe does most of the work for the hero by killing all of his men ala the Joker in The Dark Knight. It’s a method that negatively affects his chances of success considerably. Shaye is cruel, no doubt, but he lacks the sheer crazy that Forsythe is capable of bringing. Barry Pepper is among his crew playing a rapist who appears to have some sort of mental deficiency. Throw in the token 90’s Euro bad guy and you have yourself a group of baddies fit for any 1990’s action film.
Forsythe isn’t the most difficult villain to deal with.
The Action: Firestorm should have had some kickass fire-based action but it falls a little bit short of being what it could have been. Howie Long wields an ax but I don’t recall a single instance of ax murder from the defensive titan. As I said earlier, William Forsythe takes out his whole crew which doesn’t leave much ass-whipping for our hero Jesse. When the film was originally pushed forward it was going to be very Cliffhanger-y with excellent visuals and stunts out the ass but the budget was slashed to smithereens and instead we get the direct to video goodness starring Howie and not Sly Stallone.
Hardcore Marco Polo!
Take it Home:
- Rookie: First cinema feature for Barry Pepper.
- Fire-Man: Scott Glenn also played a fireman in Backdraft.
- Sidekick: I wish Terry Bradshaw was cast as Howie’s comic relief.
- Opening Credits: They say only 400 of the 30,000 wildland firefighters are trained smoke jumpers.
The Verdict: I want this movie to be much better than it is but it isn’t as good as I tell myself. That doesn’t mean that it’s not fun but don’t expect it to blow you away. I complain a lot about bad villains and bad leading men (Wahlberg) but this film had potential to have excellent both and it just failed to live up to it. If you see it on TV one day then you might want to DVR it but don’t skip the latest episode of Game of Thrones for it.