Ladder 49 (2004) Review

When a firefighter is injured and trapped when on a job, his life flashes before his eyes and this is how we see his story unfold. Remembering the very happy times he has had, as the Chief attempts to rescue him.


This really is possibly one of the saddest movies I have watched, even though it is pretty clear from the start of the movie what is going to happen at the end. But the way in which it is done is just so heartbreaking, especially with the song “Shine Your Light” by Robbie Robertson playing in conjunction with it.

Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) is a firefighter who is trapped in a burning building. While he is trapped we get flashbacks of his life since first became a fireman as a rookie. When he first met the love of his life, from dating to the wedding and marriage, having children and how close friends he was to other firemen, who became his best friends. All of the up and downs of his life are shown in order in long flashbacks from showing him trying to get to safer grounds to be rescued.

I think the most interesting thing with the story is the point that life is very short when it comes to the end, and how you should appreciate everything and make the most of life. The relationship which is the main one in the film has to be between Jack and Captain Mike Kennedy (John Travolta) who shows the leadership and father like figure becoming a friend and part of Jack’s family as he grows up as a fireman and family man.

While this film contains a lot of quite serious issues and moments, it also contains some very amusing moments involving pranks they play on each other. Such as the priest scene when Jack first goes into the firehouse.

Joaquin Phoenix puts in a very good performance as Jack Morrison showing that he can do a much softer character, I just loved the way he was in the scene when he explains his ring, and depending on which way it’s pointing it means you are free or belong to someone. While turning it round when telling Linda this, I thought it was a very lovely dovey moment (yes I must have been in a loving mood when I watched this). But also showing different emotion when things happened to his friends, losing one of them and the other being in an accident.

John Travolta was also very good, I thought he looked genuinely upset at the funeral at the end of the movie. But the scene in which one of the firefighters had died and the rest of them are fighting in the house, he comes in and shouts and sorts it all out and I just thought it was very good acting on his part. Plus a very moving and emotional part of the movie.

 I thinking point of this movie is how difficult at times it must be for firefighters when they have a young family. Being able to risk their lives to save people who are in danger and need saving themselves. Yes, I know it is there job but I do not think they are given enough credit. The events in this movie, could and possibly to happen so often in everyday life around the world without much mention at all.

Overall, I do enjoy watching this movie despite it having a sad ending it still has some very heart warming, nice and funny moments along with the sad and upsetting. I thought good performances were put into it.

One thought on “Ladder 49 (2004) Review

  1. I did like this movie, and what I liked is that (for once) Joaquin Phoenix attempted to take on a normal part involving a normal guy doing normal guy things. For someone so dark and twisty, he didn’t do too bad.


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