DVD Reviews | Mar 24th, 2005
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Jacinda Barrett, Robert Patrick, Morris Chestnut,Billy Burke
Written By: Lewis Colick
Directed By: Jay Russell
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
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The story of one firefighter, Jack Morrison, who loves his job, but starts to question if this is something that he really wants. His passion to save people’s lives keeps him going, alongside with his brothers of Ladder 49, and the support of his beautiful family, Jack Morrison is one hell of a firefighter. The film takes you through one of the scariest jobs any person can have and those who are brave enough to do their duty to protect us. Ladder 49 is exciting and carries you through Jack Morrison’s life with some of the most exhilirating footage every seen for a firefighting film.
Imagine every day you leave for work, save goodbye to the one’s you love, and drive off to work with the chances you may never see them again. That is what a firefighter has to deal with on a daily basis. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but that is what makes firemen so unique. They are the one’s running into the burning buildings as everyone else is leaving. For Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) that was something he enjoyed and thrived on. Ladder 49 takes place in the city of Baltimore, MD and the squad get a call for a fire in a 20 story building. Everything is going great for the unit until Jack Morrison gets stuck in the building, with floors and walls collapsing. He is dropped several stories to the ground, but is still alive. At that point, the story flashes back to when Jack first starts as a firemen at Ladder 49. One of the toughest positions to be in for firemen and police officers, is to be a rookie. It’s part of the initiation, and for the fellow firefighters to accept you as their brother, family and friend. Mopping the floors, cleaning the trucks, wiping down the firepole, scrubbing the toilets. That is all part of the rookie life in one of these houses. Next, you see how Jack meets his wife, Linda, played by the gorgeous Jacinda Barrett. You might remember her from MTV’s Real World London. I think she is great and just mesmerizes you with her beauty and charm. I want more movies with her in them dammit! Okay, back to the review. The story continues to chronicle Jack’s progression from rookie firemen to seasoned veteran as he deals with nasty fires, and the bond he has with his fire house. As the men try to rescue Jack from the rubble and blaze of the building, Jack continues to think about his wife, and their two kids, and also the death of several of his fellow firefighters. That has to be the most difficult thing for these men as they all grow so attached to each other, going through life altering experiences like saving people lives and buildings, because one day they can be gone and everyone is crushed. Unfortunately, the best thing for them is to immortalize their lives by continuing to do their jobs and to get back on that truck to fight another day. The families know that one day these men may never come home, and that the fire house would never forget about them, and that they would take care of them.
John Travolta does a fine job as Captain Mike Kennedy, who watched Jack Morrison from the first day he walked into the house, until this day, almost ten years later, that he is stuck inside a building with no access to get out. Mike Kennedy knew that Jack was waning in his passion for firefighting. Mike makes an offer to Jack to try and get off the truck and into a desk job at headquarters. Jack thinks about it, but knows deep down he still loves to fight fires. Mike Kennedy seems like a bruised and battered Captain. Knowing that his men will always lose their lives in these situations, and you can just see the lose of life is taking its toll on him.
The extras are great and show you how much training and hard work had to go into making this movie. With “The Making Of Ladder 49,” several aspects are displayed like the two week training course all the men had to go on. They were all impressed with Joaquin Phoenix’s work ethic because they thought he was going to stay on and fight fires for real. With the help of the real Baltimore firefighters, logistics and planning on making this film look as real as possible really helped the film. No CGI fires were used, which was great. Also, check out the featurrette “Everyday Heroes: Real Stories From Real Firefighters,” Deleted scenes, audio commentary with director Jay Russell and editor Bud Smith, and a Robbie Robertson video for “Shine Your Light.”
I was impressed with how much Ladder 49 portrayed firefighting. Intense, dramatic and filled with tragedy, these men are heroes and their work is taken for granted. After 9/11, people can appreciate the hard work these men give every day, and Ladder 49 really shows that. Every person wants to have that bond of brotherhood, and to be loved by both your family and friends, with equal love. Overall, Ladder 49 was a great film.
-Everyday Heroes: Real Stories from Real Firefighters
-The Making of Ladder 49
-Robbie Robertson “Shine Your Light” Music Video
-Audio Commentary With Director Jay Russell and Editor Bud Smith.
-ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
-FRENCH: Dolby Digital Stereo
-Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)
Favorite Scenes: Any scene with Jacinda Barrett. First day on the job. Swing from the roof.
Running Time: 115 minutes