Ladder 49

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Ladder 49
Review (8.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Ladder 49 stars Joaquin Phoenix as firefighter Jack Morrison, whose development and growth in a Baltimore fire station is outlined throughout the movie. The movie actually starts out years into Morrison's service. His firehouse, Ladder 49, has been called to battle a massive inferno buring down a gigantic warehouse and Morrison and his crew, which includes the likes of Captain Mike Kennedy (John Travolta), Lenny Richter (Robert Patrick) and Keith Perez (Jay Hernandez), have been called to fight the blaze. While inside the building saving some trapped workers, a floor collapses and Morrison falls several feet and is injured badly. As he waits for his comrades to come to rescue him and struggles to stay alive, we relive Morrison's years of service in flashbacks, from the day he showed up to the station as a "wet-behind-the-ears" rookie, through his marriage, the birth of his kids, the trials and tribulations of being both a firefighter and a family man, along with a lot of drinking and several dangerous blazes he and the crew battled, their heroic moments and some spectacular rescues. The movie also stars Morris Chestnut as Tommy Drake, Billy Burke as Dennis Gauquin, Balthazar Getty as Ray Gauquin and the beautiful Jacinda Barrett as Jack's soon-to-be wife Linda Morrison.

I have to admit, going into Ladder 49, I was expecting the worst and to tell you the truth, it was mostly because the movie had the name "John Travolta" attached to it. I really have lost all faith in Travolta based on many of his roles since Pulp Fiction but despite his suprisingly small role in this movie, he was very good, as was the entire cast of the movie. Ladder 49 had a very human, almost blue-collar element to it and in my eyes, that's what made it such a good movie. It was funny at times, tense at others and it definitely pulled at the old heart strings. I've always felt that firefighters are amoungst the most underpaid professions out there and seeing this movie only added to those sentiments. You have these guys who put their lives on the line and save other lives constantly and yet they probably make 1/10 of what other professions like lawyers, bankers and these crooked executives, who don't always give a whole lot back to society.

Nevertheless, I have to strongly recommend checking out Ladder 49 if you get a chance. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie from start to finish. I liked Travolta, in what is his best role in years for sure, I really liked Joaquin Phoenix, I found all the characters to be very realistic and likeable , even the ones who were supposed to be not-so-likeable and I thought the story contained all the emotional elements that I wanted it to contain. There's really nothing negative I have to say about Ladder 49. I'm not going to sit here and tell you it is the best movie ever made but it was just an overall enjoyable experience at the theatre and it might have even gone so far as to resurrect my faith in Travolta. Almost, but not quite. He does the great speech. If only he had the great dance scene...

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