Backdraft 2

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Backdraft 2 Movie Poster Image
Unnecessary, nonsensical sequel has violence, language.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sean is unforgiving, stubborn, rude, and impatient, but also a good fire investigator who has no time for anyone or thing that gets in his way. He does risk his life to save others from fires, but he seems to obsessively love fire, which makes him rather creepy.


Multiple explosions occur. Some covered dead bodies are seen. Some charred bodies are seen. Several people are shot and blood is shown. A funeral. A couple is trapped on a bed, aware that if they get up an explosive device will go off and kill them. The death of five trick-or-treaters.


 A clothed couple is seen in bed together.


"F--k," "s--t," "ass," "piss," "jagoff," and "suck."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Backdraft 2 is the sequel to director Ron Howard's 1991 Backdraft, which looked at firemen in Chicago. This movie isn't as entertaining as the original. In the manner of many TV network dramas, charred bodies, arson, flames, explosions, shootings, falls from high buildings, and the death of five trick-or-treaters all weave though this chaotic tale of a fire causation investigator. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "ass." Adults drink alcohol. A clothed couple is seen in bed together.

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What's the story?

BACKDRAFT 2 brings back William Baldwin as Brian McCaffrey, a firefighting character in the 1991 Backdraft. Now his nephew Sean (Joe Anderson) is an angry, antisocial fire investigator catching arsonists across Chicago. Sean hasn't forgiven Brian for letting Sean's father die in a fire years ago. Sean is estranged from his family and he doesn't have any friends, either. In fact, no one who works with him likes him much. But Sean is fine with all that, deriving his sense of self from being the best at what he does: understanding fire. In fact, he even talks to fire when he investigates arson crime sites. He's the guy who sees past the seemingly accidental fire for the murder/arson it actually is. When he's assigned a partner, a rookie and a female, Maggie Rening (Alisha Bailey), he's predictably uncooperative until she proves herself in smarts and loyalty. Doggedly, with the help of an incarcerated arsonist-psycho (Donald Sutherland) and despite FBI stonewalling, they tie a series of arsons together and Sean, on his own, ends up looking for a stolen missile being shipped illegally out of the country. 

Is it any good?

Most of this sequel feels like a bad SNL parody about the clichéd lawman with a chip on his shoulder who The Department only puts up with because he's the best there is. The parody factor may constitute its only possible appeal to teens old enough to watch. Plot and characters are all generic, as if created from a make-a-movie template based on the study of the dramatic arc of actual good movies. Much of this is nearly incomprehensible, with Sean pursuing a missing missile prototype because of its role in some arsons. It's all one big excuse for Sean to busily investigate something or other, leaving us totally uninvested in the outcome, the characters, and most of all, Sean.

Far more interesting are the sound of such fire-related terms as "benzyl nitrate," "accelerants," "celluloid," "mercury," and, hey, by the way, what's a "frustration box"? There's the formulaic love interest, a character left utterly undeveloped (a loss for both the audience and the poor actor who had to play her). Stick with the original movie and skip Backdraft 2.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Backdraft 2's presentation of the science behind arson investigations. Were details about how fires start and spread interesting or confusing?

  • Some movies seem to stick with familiar plots. Does this seem original or a rehash of other movies you've seen?

  • What does the movie want us to think about the main character? Does it urge us to dislike him because he's difficult and unfriendly, or admire him for being "different"? How do you think you'd feel about someone this rude and angry if you met that person in real life?   

Movie details

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