Absolutely marvelous special effects are the salvation and the curse of this movie. The film exploits Chicago's terrain of ethnic neighborhoods, political turf, and glorious modern architecture, but it has trouble when it comes in close to the personal level. The intention here seems to be to question the roots of heroism and its expression. While we may shift impatiently in our seats as the story line veers away from any interesting conflict, we sit up and pay attention when our heroes leap aboard the engines to battle a blaze.
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Wiseman filmed conditions in the Bridgeport Mental Hospital with a bare minimum of crew and equipment, which resulted in a devastatingly candid view of life behind the high walls of a state mental hospital for the criminally insane.