Ladder 49

Bomb Rating: 

How come after 10 years of marriage, two kids, and fighting countless number of fires, Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) and his wife, Linda (Jacinda Barrett), look exactly the same as the day they got married? Oh, I know, it's the magic of Hollywood! Nobody ever ages. Childbirth has absolutely no effect on women whatsoever.

Is it just me or does every film about a group of firefighters, or cops, or stockbrokers, or what have you, contain the same cast of characters: the requisite black guy, the requisite best friend who suffers some tragedy, the requisite funny guy, and the requisite leader with the heart of gold? It seems like no matter what the profession, one could just plug in the same group of guys saying the same things to each other.

"Ladder 49" is a tribute to firefighters and in our post-9/11 world, the perfect commercial enterprise with which to exploit the tragedy. Let's face it: You could do a whole movie about firemen raping nuns and we'd all pretty much still look up to them. Consequently, put them in a film where their heroic actions are worshipped to a degree just short of deification, and virtually any fork in the plot road is open to the director.

The movie opens with Jack Morrison getting trapped in a building during a horrible fire. Then we go back in time and follow him as he arrives at the firehouse for the first time, trains, meets the guys, marries his wife, and so on. The Captain (John Travolta) is both cool and a good boss. Tommy (Morris Chestnut) is the requisite black guy. Dennis (Billy Burke) is the requisite best friend. Lenny (Robert Patrick) is the requisite funny guy. Believe it or not, they all bond. They bond and bond some more. Then they bond again!

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