Firestorm (1998) – Review

2 Stars

Howie Long makes a bid for action hero stardom in the low-brow and utterly preposterous Firestorm. He plays a smokejumper of which there are only 400 amongst the registered 300,000 firefighters nation-wide. The opening title card made me aware of that fact, I’m not a fire enthusiast. Firestorm contains a few other interesting bits of nuggets: At 300 degrees trees explode because the sap boils and rocks explode at 500 degrees. Both of those odd tidbits are throwaway lines spouted by the wooden but affable Howie Long. Why didn’t the writers pay-off that set-up later on down the line? Because Firestorm is a movie that has a professional polished look and the production values are on the level, but the story lacks originality, takes too long to develop, and leaves a trail of dangling loose ends.

A wildfire is spreading fast across the dry Wyoming Forrest. Mixed into the fray are a group of escaped convicts posing as Candian firefighters. Randall Alexander Shaye (William Forsythe), is the leader of the murderous escapees and he’s headed to the borderline to retrieve the $37 million he stole four years prior. The posse come across a beautiful birdwatcher Jennifer (Suzy Amis), and they decide to take her hostage as an insurance plan. Jesse Graves (Howie Long) is chief of the smokejumpers, he’s in charge of finding a way to stop Shaye and his group of convicts and save Jennifer at the same time.

Firestorm was originally intended as a much larger action vehicle for Sylvester Stallone. When Sly walked away the script was reshaped and the budget was slashed. Former NFL standout Howie Long, co-host of Fox’s pre-game show, was a natural selection for the role. His rugged appeal and ability to deliver successful line readings in Broken Arrow gave the producers at 20th Century Fox hope that he could carry the action-hero mantle into the new millennium. That wouldn’t be the case. Turns out Long in a supporting role is a lot more palatable than asking the big guy to carry an entire movie on his broad shoulders. This would be a case of one and done for Howie Long as a leading man. Today, he still hosts the NFL pre-game show, and he doesn’t look a day older than in his Firestorm days.

Director: Dean Semler
Stars: Howie Long, Scott Glenn, Suzy Amis

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