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The Forgotten Kurt Russell Action Thriller You Can Watch On HBO Max

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Kurt Russell's unpretentious charms and glorious head of hair helped make him one of the titans of action, sci-fi, and horror cinema of the eighties and nineties. His performances helped make movies like The Thing, Escape From New York, and Big Trouble In Little China classics of the era. But even if you think you know the ins and outs of Russell's impressive resume, there's one fiery thriller on HBO Max that you've likely missed out on.

Despite being a box office hit, scoring well with critics, nabbing Oscar nominations for its visual effects and sound design, and even inspiring an attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, the 1991 movie Backlash hasn't exactly stood the cultural test of time. The film sees Russell starring as Lieutenant Bull McCaffrey, a Chicago firefighter whose bravery is put to the test when he finds himself hot on the trail of a serial arsonist who is terrorizing the city.

Russell is the star of Backdraft, but he's far from the only attraction the movie has to offer. It was directed by Ron Howard and co-stars the likes of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin, and Robert De Niro. Despite all the star power and accolades behind it, Backdraft often gets left out when discussing the great action movies of that particular time.

Thankfully, streaming has given the film another opportunity to wow audiences. The movie is currently available on HBO Max and is worth checking out for one very big reason.

Backdraft was heralded for its incredible visual effects

Backdraft tells a story laced with political corruption and personal heartache, but judging from the reviews of the time, that's not the reason to tune into the movie. While critics roundly gave the film high marks, most advised to ignore the cliched trappings of the plot and instead focus on the visceral action that's aided by the stunning pyrotechnic effects.

Two of Chicago's most famous movie critics, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, recommended the movie based on the strength of the action alone. In his review, Ebert was highly critical of the movie's plot, writing that it "unwinds with relentless conventionality." However, he also said, "Never before in the movies have I seen fire portrayed by such convincing, encompassing special effects." Ultimately, he gave the movie three out of four stars, recommending it due to the pyrotechnic effects which "allow the camera to plunge into the center of roaring fires, so convincingly that there is never a moment's doubt that we are surrounded by flames."

Siskel had similar criticisms of the plot in his review for the Chicago Tribune, but still declared that the "fire sequences are easily the best ever." For that reason, he deemed the film "a spectacle worth observing."

You don't have to take their word for it. You can see for yourself by checking out Backdraft, which is now streaming on HBO Max.