Volume 91, Issue 58

Tuesday, January 13, 1998

fun dipped


Action film goes down in flames

By Tim Merrill
Gazette Staff

In recent years an annoying trend has surfaced in the genre of the Hollywood action film. Many modern directors think an action movie can be adequately strung together with five or so 'over the top' action sequences, one or two major actors and a paper-thin script.

While in some cases, this formula does pay off – as clearly evidenced in Die Hard and Con Air – usually we just wind up with another damn Steven Segal movie.

After seeing the explosive trailers for the new action film Firestorm, one expects another example of the generic Hollywood action formula. Surprise, surprise! Firestorm is not a movie that breaks the mold of action films, but instead fits it rather easily.

The primary plot behind Firestorm involves a prison break by a group of convicts (led by actor William Forsythe), who are sent into the wilds of Wyoming to extinguish a spreading forest fire. Soon the escaped criminals find themselves trapped between two raging fires and are forced to deal with firefighter Jesse Graves (Howie Long) and a commando naturalist played by Suzy Amiss.

While Long has appeared in other films such as Broken Arrow, Firestorm marks his debut as a new screen action hero. Long has the perfect build and appearance to propel himself as the next big thing in action films and with a little more acting experience behind him, he may prove to be the successor to big Arnold's throne. Unfortunately, it seems Long has not only found himself trapped in a fire within the movie, but also trapped within the confines of an abysmal script.

While there are several established actors in the movie such as Scott Glen (The Right Stuff), William Forsythe (Palookaville) and Suzy Amis (The Legend Of Little Jo), they all seem to be forced to struggle through wooden dialogue and scenarios – and this makes the film falter.

On a positive note, the photography throughout Firestorm is surprisingly incredible, due to the fact that director Dean Semler is a cinematographer who has done work on previous films such as Dances With Wolves. In the close-up scenes of the forest fires, Semler really perpetuates the claustrophobic feeling of being surrounded by a raging inferno.

While Firestorm seems to fizzle as a whole, there are some elements of the movie that are entertaining. If you're into some dynamic naturalist photography and you're willing to suspend belief for 90 minutes, definitely check out Firestorm on a Tuesday night.

Graphic by Janice Olynich

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998