If there’s an element of Into the Fire that isn’t rank and offensive, I’ve failed to find it. A self-mutilating NYC harbor cop (Sean Patrick Flanery) emotionally tortures himself and those around him—including a whiny music teacher (Melina Kanakaredes) and a grieving grandmother (for her firefighter son, yup)—while he selfishly sorts out his simplistic childhood trauma. Is it the cheap symbolism, the embarrassing dialogue, or the odious protagonist that dooms it? Is the cop gonna bang the grandma or not? Oh, I give up. Just read director Michael Phelan’s statement: “Make no mistake: this picture represents all that is right about independent film.” Nope. And later, shamelessly invoking 9-11: “In such times, performances such as these are the fearlessness and courage that have the power to affect [sic] change . . . maybe even create the meteorological wonder that is a faith blasted thundershower.” If faith-blasted thundershowers are your cup of tea, and you still desire entry Into the Fire, then I hear Dante, Virgil, and maybe Phelan are offering discounted fares on trips to middle Malebolge, the eternal flames being quite nice this time of year.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 13, 2005