Monday, September 22, 2014

Ladder 49

Ladder 49First and foremost, this is a drama, not an action film, about firefighters, with the focus on one firefighter in particular. The film tells the story about the life this one firefighter, whose life is revealed in flashback, when he finds himself in a bit of difficulty while fighting a fire and engaging in a rescue. That singular moment in time is grounded in the context of his life as a firefighter. While the film may be said to be somewhat formulaic and predictable, it does not take away from the fine acting, the great fire fighting sequences, and the poignant and funny moments that occur throughout the film. In many ways it is reflective of life itself, with some highs and lows, as well as a ready, steady core of reality in which all is grounded.

The firefighter who finds himself in a quandary is Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix), a firefighter at a Baltimore firehouse. The viewer sees Jack in his rookie days as he is initiated into the brotherhood of firefighters and begins the bonding process with his fellow firefighters, whereby they become "family". Some of those bonding scenes are quite funny, especially the one involving his initial meeting with the then Captain of the firehouse, Mike Kennedy (John Travolta). Others are quite serious and poignant, as the dangers of the job are brought home to the viewer, especially when Jack loses a member of the brotherhood that is near and dear to him. The film shows, as the years go by, Jack's progression through the ranks from rookie to respected firefighter. It is clear that it is a job that he loves, despite the ever present danger to life.

As the viewer sees Jack's professional life unfold, the viewer also catches glimpses into Jack's personal life, from the moment that he meets his future wife, Linda (Jacinda Barrett), to the moment of their wedding and the birth of their children, with the wife and children also becoming part of the larger firefighter family or brotherhood. The film also shows the tremendous pressure and stress that a firefighter's job can have on one's spouse and children with their ever present concern for the safety of that beloved firefighter. After all, firefighters go where others dare not, simply so that others may live. The film shows how firefighters and members of their families cope with this ever present sword of Damocles that hangs over their respective heads.

Joaquin Phoenix, who is one of the finest young actors of his generation, gives a low key, but poignant, performance as the salt of the earth kind of guy who wants to do the best that he can for those whom he loves, in a job that he loves, with those with whom he loves working. He gives a quintessential portrayal of a working class guy for whom firefighting and family are concepts at the central core of his being. John Travolta gives a humorous and, at times, affecting performance as Mike Kennedy, the firefighting official who clearly is not above playing a practical joke on his firefighters but who pulls out all the stops to ensure that none are left behind when fighting a fire. Jacinda Barrett is effective in the role of Linda, the concerned wife who does her best to allay her fears and, over time, become supportive of her husband's chosen career. The rest of the supporting cast is equally effective in their respective roles.

This is a film that those who would like to sneak a peek into the life of a firefighter will appreciate. It will certainly let the viewer see the everyday types of situations that may confront a firefighter, as well as enable the viewer to discern why firefighters form such close relationships with each other. After viewing this film, a viewer can certainly walk away with an understanding as to why firefighters are such a unique brotherhood and why they bond as they do. It takes a special person, indeed, to walk into a towering inferno. This film does firefighters proud, and my hat is certainly off to firefighters everywhere. It is with good reason that we, in The Big Apple, call our firefighters New York's bravest.

This is a simple story. It's about the brave firefighters in the Baltimore Fire Department. John Travolta is cast as the chief. Joaquin Phoenix is cast as the young fireman. Jacinda Barrett is cast as the young fireman's wife. The film spans a period of 10 years. During this time we see the young couple meet, marry and have some very cute children. We watch the time-worn cliché about how the wife worries about the husband and wants him to stop his dangerous life. Naturally, he doesn't change though and he just gets braver and braver. There's a lot of camaraderie and good-natured horseplay among the men. But they all respect each other and it's a tight-knit group. Eventually, our hero is trapped in a burning building with no way out. The plot is predictable. And the acting is adequate.

But this film is more than just about the plot. It is about the fires. And I must say I sat in that theater absolutely transfixed as I was thrust into what looked like the reality of it all. I've seen other films and also have read about fires. But this film brought me right there. I was inside all the burning buildings depicted in the film. I might not have felt the actual heat of the fires, but I did feel their unpredictability and the randomness in which tragedy can occur. I also have nothing but admiration for the work that firefighters do, especially when they have to actually go into the buildings when everyone else is rushing out. I don't know how the special effects were done and I don't really care. But I admire the filmmakers for bringing to the screen this story what the job of a firefighter is all about.

Buy Ladder 49 Now

I grew up in a neighborhood of rowhouses on the edges of Baltimore City. My father spent some 30 years with the Baltimore City Fire Department, and the single word I can use to describe this film is "authentic." I remember watching my father come home in that same blue work shirt with its black and gold patch proclaiming "Pride Protecting People." I remember going into the Engine House with him as a kid, tossing a football or a softball around with the guys and dreading the fact that any moment that bell could ring, that the dinners on the plates in the kitchen could go uneaten, that the baseball gloves could be dropped and the turnout boots thrust on.

This film places the emphasis on why these men party as hard as they do because every beer might be the last one, and it might as well be the best one.

Read Best Reviews of Ladder 49 Here

When I was 18 I joined our local volunteer fire service, and I have been doing it ever since. Every day people stop and ask why we do it. I never had an answer, but now I just tell them to go watch Ladder 49. This film is in my humble opinion, one of the best, if not the best, movie out there paying tribute to us lucky enough to be a part of the fire service in this great nation.

Granted, I am no Baltimore city fireman, nor am I a paid full-time fireman. But even in our all volunteer district of around twenty thousand or so, I can still say that this movie is as authentic as they come. I often laughed the first time I saw this movie, as I found it funny how similar we run things here in Western New York.

With it's authenticity and stunning cast (especially Travolta, one of the best actors out there), this film easily plays as one of the most powerful movies I have on my shelf. For those of you who loved Backdraft, even though it was not very realistic or authentic at all, you will love Ladder 49. For those of you who cried at the end of Backdraft, you'll ball at the end of this movie. Definately a must have for ANYBODY!

Want Ladder 49 Discount?

I watched this movie in the theater and was impressed at the reality of the scenes. I am not a firefighter, but a paramedic and nurse who oversees an emergency department and EMS service. The scenes are very realistic. The comraderie is what is experienced each day. Many of my friends and family saw this movie and realized a whole new expectation for what the folks who deal with emergencies go through. Every nurse, physician, firefighter, paramedic and police officer experience this reality each day. Their families experience it as well.

It's also very much about our mortality and the realization that events are capable of changing our life in a second. Every person who watches this movie should be able to relate. However, those who deal with emergency services should be able to understand that it takes just a split second to change everything. That is where this movie excels. I have been there, and have seen everything change in a matter of seconds.

Watch the movie, and enjoy good acting and a realistic movie.

Save 44% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment