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Laramie Movie Scope:

A tale of smoke and fire and chainsaws, signifying nothing

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 11, 1998 -- "Firestorm" is not the movie that establishes Howie Long as the next Sylvester Stallone. It is just a run-of-the-mill action movie. Howie will need something better than this to compete with the big boys.

Long (who appeared in "Broken Arrow"), a former football player, stars as smokejumper Jesse Graves in this movie about a forest fire used as an escape ploy for some convicts. The story is beyond far-fetched, but is mildly entertaining.

Graves heads up a team of elite smokejumpers who parachute into forest fires to rescue campers and such from the flames. The movie starts out as a training film, but that's just a ruse. It soon turns into a caper, as a forest fire is deliberately set as part of an escape attempt by a band of convicts.

Graves spots the convicts, disguised as Canadian firefighters, and parachutes into the fire area to rescue them and a woman named Jennifer (Suzy Amis "Titanic") they picked up along the way. He and Jennifer end up being chased by the convicts through the wilderness.

In most of these kinds of films, the wily hero picks off the villains one by one. This time the villains save the hero some trouble by reducing their own numbers. The convict leader, Randy Earl Shaye (William Forsythe "Things to do in Denver When You're Dead") kills his companions so he doesn't have to share his hidden money with them. Shaye isn't particularly sneaky about the killings, but the remaining convicts remain incredibly gullible until the end.

The film also fails to explain how a bunch of city-slicker hoods manage to successfully track a couple of supposedly savvy backwoods types like Graves and Jennifer (she is a bird-watcher with lots of survival skills) through heavy timber. Although Graves is a fire fighter, he seems to spend a lot more time building fires than he does putting them out.

There are the usual action scenes. Fist fights, gunplay, car chases, motorcycle jumping, explosions and lots of fires. There is also an axe-throwing scene. Forsythe makes a very grim villain, and Amis is very spunky. Long seems a bit uncomfortable as the hero, but he shows promise. Veteran actor Scott Glenn ("Courage Under Fire") does his usual fine job playing an older firefighter, Wynt Perkins. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1998 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)