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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.21%
Worth A Look: 19.23%
Average: 11.54%
Pretty Bad34.62%
Total Crap: 6.41%

5 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Ladder 49
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by PyThomas

"A heartwarming film that becomes a fiery mess."
3 stars

A couple days after Labor Day 2000, the apartment next to mine caught fire. A few minutes later, when the fire department arrived to put the fire out (and just in time, too), they gave me some kind of deodorizing spray to get rid of the smell of the smoke. I tried spraying it... but it stunk worse than the smoke, in my opinion. Why am I telling this story? Because it's all basically a metaphor to what my experience of watching Ladder 49 was like. The story was gripping and fairly suspenseful, but it ended up really stinking.

I will give Ron Howard credit for telling the story in a distinctive way. You know the old cliche of how your life "flashes before your eyes" in a life-threatening situation... well, that's what we see happen to Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix), a seasoned fireman with the Ladder 49 company of Baltimore. He's doing his usual search-and-rescue job in a burning building, and suddenly the ground gives in and he's trapped in the inferno.

From there we have the flashbacks going back to his first day on the job, his promotions, his experiences with his co-workers, meeting a nice young woman (Jacinda Barrett), marrying her and having kids with her, and so on... all the while his boss, Chief Kennedy (John Travolta), scrambles to get a rescue mission together for his fallen comrade.

I'm really tempted to give away the ending... but I'll just say that it's not your typical "Hollywood ending", which actually could have saved the story and made Ladder 49 a different (and better) kind of film. And the final sequence could have been lifted from one of those "public service announcement" commercials encouraging you to support your local firefighters.... while the intentions are good and honorable, this just wasn't needed. Everything else leading up to this point was excellent filmmaking, with stellar performances all around from everyone involved. And then just like a building in a five-alarm fire, it all just falls apart.

I'm very supportive of our nation's fire departments, just like any other red-blooded American in this post-9/11 world. So I hope any firefighter who happens to read this review understands that I'm not putting down the whole idea behind Ladder 49... I just had a problem with how the movie was executed.

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originally posted: 01/06/05 04:06:45
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
3/24/10 Firefighter005 loved the movie, but as a firefighter myself, id luv to go in a burning building w/o smoke 4 stars
1/26/09 a firefighter Not a single firefighter would go into that building...surround and drownd! 3 stars
1/09/09 Shaun Wallner Was'nt all that great! 2 stars
4/22/08 Sarah Loved it! I've seen it 100 times and it's made me cry every time! 5 stars
12/05/06 William Goss Breezes through its rampant cliches, marred by the hokiest of endings. 3 stars
9/05/06 sam its good seeing americas heroes being onscreen instead of the usual teen drama 5 stars
9/02/06 nicole for all them people who think this movie is shit well you dont no what a good movie is! 5 stars
5/25/06 Piz Lot's of potential but very formulaic and predictable. A snoozer for the most part. 2 stars
1/10/06 Michael Flat as a pancake 1 stars
9/13/05 Taylor Fladgate Painful at times to watch. Cliche ridden. Who rated this "awesome"??? 2 stars
6/17/05 Leigh as a firey, would never go into a building burning without a buddy with hose and water. 1 stars
5/18/05 mwildema its like they tried to make this suck 1 stars
5/06/05 Dan The ultimate tribute to firefighters worldwide. 5 stars
4/18/05 DM Crappy, sappy, cliched and one-dimensional 2 stars
3/31/05 James I am a firefighter in idaho and it really hit me hard and touched home with our lives. 5 stars
3/18/05 Crandall101 I loved it! 5 stars
3/16/05 Lauren it was good 3 stars
3/10/05 oOParkerOo Boring 2 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung good acting and surprisingly a pretty good soryt 4 stars
2/05/05 Amy Bradshaw Everyone needs to see this film, a wonderful tribute to firefighters. 5 stars
1/27/05 Jeff Anderson A great, spirited, & heroic film. Travolta gives a heartfelt & flat-out great performance!! 5 stars
1/08/05 Aldo This really stinks 2 stars
1/03/05 Feliciano It's the same cliché off heroism, but its an incredible and very beautiful and educative on 4 stars
11/21/04 Meg best movie I've ever seen... left me crying at the end. 5 stars
11/10/04 alicia lacount i loved it 5 stars
11/08/04 Amanda i loved it 5 stars
10/29/04 infurno I thought ladder 49 was a awsome movie, all my friends at the fire house thought so to. 5 stars
10/28/04 Chuck E Z Worth watching, visually, emotionally, and for the entertainment value. 4 stars
10/26/04 jcjs fine 5 stars
10/25/04 Alex This is Joaquin's best movie 5 stars
10/24/04 M Poor man's Bacdraft. Have you seen that movie recently? 5 stars
10/23/04 ODH This is a poor man's Backdraft, with little more than a cliche storyline 2 stars
10/18/04 D Kennedy I am a professional Fire FIghter and would give it a 9 out of 10 5 stars
10/18/04 Rob P S Heartrending 5 stars
10/15/04 Karl I thought this movie was terrific. I agree the plot was somewhat thin, but it didnt matter 5 stars
10/10/04 E. W> Sumner Better than your half-assed review says 4 stars
10/07/04 marge OKAY...listen..this movie is AwEsOmE*if anything we should give RESPECT & STOP complaining! 5 stars
10/07/04 Tiffany I thought this Movie was a great depiction of how firefighters really are. 2 thumbs up!!! 5 stars
10/07/04 ownerofdajoint good flick;especially the fire scenes.puts a firemen's job in a new light.well told 4 stars
10/04/04 Joe Smaltz Poor special effects, needed a technical director. medocre predictable plot. 2 stars
10/02/04 Kris backdraft II 1 stars
10/02/04 John Scarborough I thought this movie was rather good. It was wonderful but yet sad. I cried a bit. Must S 5 stars
10/02/04 Fuck Firemen Firefighters dont deserve any of this praise..they are a bunch of lazy self serving hacks 1 stars
10/02/04 Mark D Fulwiler thie movie doesn't honor firefighters---it deifies them--good fire effects though! 2 stars
10/01/04 Angelo Sudano Very interesting and realistic take on the life and career of a Firefighter. 5 stars
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  01-Oct-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 08-Mar-2005



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