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 Deputy Chief Kennedy frantically coordinates the effort to save him.
The Seagrave fire truck was made in Clintonville, WI. This company also made the truck seen in Backdraft See more »
When Chief Kennedy is talking to trapped Jack Morrison on the radio from outside the building, when showing Jack trapped in the burning building, the type of radio Chief Kennedy is using changes multiple times. Sometime Kennedy is talking on a portable radio with no mic attached to it, and sometimes he is talking on a portable radio with a speaker mic attached to it, and is holding the mic in his hand. However it is common for the BCFD to run on both a TAC channel and the communications channel therefore causing a chief to have 2 radios. See more »
Joaquin Phoenix gives a moving performance in "Ladder 49," playing a Baltimore firefighter who goes from rookie to 10-year veteran in the course of the story.
Although its chief selling point is its spectacular - but never hyperbolic - fire sequences, "Ladder 49" is actually at its most compelling when it focuses on the struggle firemen go through trying to balance their high risk occupation with their role as husband and father.
In addition to Phoenix, who brings a self-effacing strength and heroism to his character, there are fine performances by John Travolta as the captain of the station, and Jacinda Barrett as Phoenix's understanding but understandably concerned wife.
In the first half of the film, the screenplay threatens to erupt into a raging inferno of stereotypes and clichés, as the characters take an occasional time out from firefighting for puppy love romance at the supermarket, frat boy antics at the fire station and domestic squabbles involving neglected wives and children at the old homestead. But about halfway through the film, the deeper themes rise to the surface and "Ladder 49" begins to explore complex issues in a mature way. The quiet scenes between Phoenix and Travolta, and Phoenix and Barrett are surprisingly subtle, thoughtful and intelligently written.
It takes a while to get there, but "Ladder 49" turns out to be a tribute worthy of its subject.
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