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Ladder 49 (2004)

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Under the watchful eye of his mentor Captain Mike Kennedy, probationary firefighter Jack Morrison matures into a seasoned veteran at a Baltimore fire station. Jack has reached a crossroads,... See full summary »

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Title: Ladder 49 (2004)

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Cast

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Steve Maye ...
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Ed Reilly (as Robert Logan Lewis)
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Spencer Berglund ...
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Storyline

Under the watchful eye of his mentor Captain Mike Kennedy, probationary firefighter Jack Morrison matures into a seasoned veteran at a Baltimore fire station. Jack has reached a crossroads, however, as the sacrifices he's made have put him in harm's way innumerable times and significantly impacted his relationship with his wife and kids. Responding to the worst blaze in his career, he becomes trapped inside a 20-story building. And as he reflects on his life, now Assistant Chief Kennedy frantically coordinates the effort to save him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

trapped | fire | firefighter | disaster | axe | See more »

Taglines:

The fire starts this fall. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense fire and rescue situations, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Language:

Release Date:

1 October 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Brigada 49  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$119,211 (South Africa) (11 February 2005)

Gross:

$74,540,762 (USA) (18 February 2005)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joaquin Phoenix was so afraid of heights before shooting this film that he could not even slide down the 20-foot fire pole. After he finished training he hung off the side of a 20-story building by a single repelling rope. See more »

Goofs

After Jack falls, the scene is he's laying on the ground, P.A.S.S. device (the yellow device with the flashing lights on his belt) is sounding and you can hear dripping water in the background. In real life the pass device is so loud, it would be the only sound you could hear if you were next to it. See more »

Quotes

Lenny Richter: Good confession now son... bless me father...
Jack Morrison: Bless me father for I have sinned. It's been seven years since my last confession
Lenny Richter: Seven years is a long time
Jack Morrison: Yes, father
Lenny Richter: All right, where do we start; theft, robbery, fraud, taxes?
Jack Morrison: Well, you know...
Lenny Richter: Taxes? Always taxes... How about sex? Impure thoughts?
Jack Morrison: Well yes, quite a bit
Lenny Richter: Try to cut back. Are you married?
Jack Morrison: No
[...]
See more »

Connections

References Lethal Weapon (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

If I Should Fall from Grace with God
Written by Shane MacGowan
Performed by The Pogues
Courtesy of Warner Music U.K. Ltd.
By Arrangement with Warner Strategic Marketing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better than average drama that shows firefighters as real people
11 October 2004 | by (Oakville, Ontario) – See all my reviews

It was thirteen years ago that Ron Howard's ode to firefighters hit theaters with 1991's Backdraft. This was before Howard went on to direct such popular fare as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. This was before Kurt Russell figured that Captain Ron might a good idea, and most importantly, this was before September 11, 2001.

To say that our impression of firefighters changed that day sounds, well, awkward. Firefighters have always been held in high regard. They run into burning buildings while everyone else is running out. They put their lives on the line to save others. It is a courage that most of us would like to think we have, but few of us are ever put into a position to test.

On September 11, we watched in awe as the buildings collapsed and 340 firefighters were taken from us prematurely. Although the loss of lives that day included thousands of innocents, we warmed to our heroes and it brought their efforts and incredible bravado back to our attention. Immediately after the tragic events, it was not uncommon to see people wave or salute firefighters in the most remote regions of our country. On CNN we began to hear stories of the personal lives of these men. Their support. Their sacrifices.

It is not surprising therefore that our newly energized interest was translated into big screen emotional powerhouses. In 2002, Anthony LaPaglia and Sigourney Weaver played a firefighter and a writer to prepare eulogies for those fallen in the attacks in The Guys. Now, in 2004, red-hot Joaquin Pheonix and John Travolta have teamed up to bring us the highly effective Ladder 49.

Ladder 49 starts with a fire in a large Baltimore factory where multiple firemen have charged to look for survivors and extinguish the posing threat.

Lead by seasoned veteran Jack Morrison (Pheonix), the firemen are able to rescue a helpless employee before the floor gives way trapping Morrison within the building inferno. As Jack lays there helpless awaiting the rescue from his peers, we are sent back in time via the Hollywood standard flashback to understand what brought Jack to his present peril. We see Jack as he enters the fire hall for the first time and meets Captain Mike Kennedy (John Travolta) who takes the new probie under his wing and over the years develops a bond that includes being there when Jack gets married, has kids and steps into the shoes of a search and rescue firefighter who perishes when a roof gives way during a routine house fire. We learn how the firemen bond, how they drink together rather heavily and regularly and how when they lose one of their own, the emotional impact on them and their families

Don't get me wrong, all the above drama plays out while buildings burn, people are rescued from skyscrapers and people are saved from what would be sheer death if not for the charging brave souls of the local Fire Department. There is enough action to keep the younger audiences looking for the quick rush occupied while enough firemen running around in tight t-shirts to keep the women equally transfixed.

But it is the story that sets this film apart from any other firefighting film in memory. We get a good glimpse into the lives of the men and portrait of a young man learning the ropes and growing within the culture and environment that can be sometimes loose and playful only to become serious and deadly at the sound of a bell. Director Jay Russell (My Dog Skip) packs an emotional punch that doesn't try and suck it out of the audience with an unexpected end. Instead, we see Jack being trapped in the opening sequence and we can pretty much see the writing on the wall before the tragic events play out before our eyes.

For all the focus played to the rising star Pheonix, it is the supporting cast that really stands out within the confines of the 105 minute running time. Travolta seems comfortable in playing a supporting role and is effective and powerful in his portrayal as the Captain of an efficiently run firehouse. Also standing above the average fare is Jacinda Barrett who plays Jacks wife. Yet another beautiful Australian actress, Barrett has the largest load in the film as the anchor that questions why her husband and father of her children would risk his lives for others ignoring his own well being. She both shows anxiety and support in her understanding of his passion and it is her strength that gives the film its heart.

To compare Ladder 49 to Backdraft would be unfair. Backdraft did little to bolster our impression of the firefighting community while Ladder 49 shows them for what they deserve to be recognized as – heroes who at the sound of an alarm will put themselves in harms way to help others.


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