Fire-Blazing, Hot, Hot, Hot
by The Blonde and The
action films have an “evil villain,” and Ladder 49 is no
exception; only here, the villain is not a person, but
rather a blaze of horrendous fire. This film,
beautifully and sensitively directed by Jay Russell,
captivates the realism and extreme dangers of fire with
his most creative and compelling visuals. The
breathtaking and amazing fire sequences, as well as the
characters, make this film noteworthy. While watching
the on-screen firefighters, one can’t help but reflect
back to September 11th and remember all the true,
real-life heroes who gave their lives fighting
fearlessly to save others.
Getting back to the
make-believe world of Hollywood, lead character Jack
Morrison, played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Village,
Signs), finds himself in the middle of a devastating
20-story blaze, categorized as a four-alarm fire. This
devoted firefighter bravely endures a rescue episode
while the entire building burns and collapses around
him. The special effects are so authentic, terrifying
and devastating that you can almost feel the heat
emanating right through the screen, spilling into your
movie theater seat! As our brave hero Jack is trapped
and experiencing this out of control inferno, he
contemplates death while hoping against hope to be
rescued by his company, Ladder 49. He falls in and out
of an unconscious state where he relives his life in
flashback form, starting with his first day on the job,
through his extraordinary career, marriage, kids,
friendships, and his life of the 'All-American Dream.’
Leading the rescue is his former captain Mike
Kennedy, portrayed by John Travolta (Pulp Fiction and
yo, Vinny Barbarino, etc.) who is now a fire chief. This
is Jack’s dear friend and first mentor, his inspiring
teacher who shows what it takes to be a true
This movie will have you
experiencing everything, from outstanding fire scenes to
Blonde: Okay, I hate to state the oh-so-obvious,
but…Ladder 49 was like Backdraft meets Towering Inferno
meets Frequency. Before I begin, can I take the liberty
of discussing the presidential debate?
Blonde: Just the part when Kerry said…
Blonde: Okay, but how about when Bush said…
Maven: What part of “no” don't you get? We are movie
critics, not political annalists.
Blonde: Hey, movies or politics, it's all about acting,
babe! Fine, you win. But, did you like Kerry's
Maven: You're pushin it!
You're such a, such a…fitch! Ladder 49 had the
most gorgeous music throughout; make a note of that
while you're watching. Maven, I couldn't help but feel a
strong connection and a part of this film, as my entire
life I had dreams of being a firefighter. It was my
Maven: Wow, really? So what happened?
Blonde: I'm afraid of fire. Not to mention I hate to
sweat. It makes my makeup run.
Maven: Well, you've dated enough firefighters. That
should have put your fiery passion out!
Blonde: I must say that my favorite part of this film
was the brotherhood and camaraderie that the
firefighters displayed for one another. I wonder if
that's the way it is in a real fire station. Also, I
thought the chemistry between Linda and Jack was so
believable and honest. By the way, Travolta looked the
best I have seen him in years.
Maven: Ladder 49 is a technically spectacular
firefighter movie. It goes beyond just amazing fire
scenes and explosions. Ladder actually takes you into
the lives of firefighters and the courage it takes to
enter those burning buildings. There are some clichés
with the male-bonding that takes place, but every
firefighter movie has them. In the wake of 9/11, we
expect heroism from these men and this movie certainly
Blonde: Maven, I forgot to tell you that when you got up
to go to the ladies room, all the guys in the station
took off their clothes. You would have loved that scene.
It was like Chippendales meets the firefighters. Very
Maven: Wrong! I wasn't gone long enough for that scene
to happen. Good try, though! Instead of painting a
picture where these guys have halos above their heads, I
would have liked to see how they deal with their egos.
Does being a hero ever go to your head?
Blonde: Well, I try very hard to not let it go to my
head… What was wrong with you today? You sat on your
popcorn and left the theater a mess with popcorn and
candy wrappers all over the place? That's not like you.
Actually that's like me.
Maven: I was into the film! I picked it all up on the
way out! Most of it anyway… Unlike you!
Maven: When I saw Joaquin and Travolta on David
Letterman, they spoke of how the firefighting equipment
they had to sport weighs close to 60 pounds. On Oprah,
they discussed how, to prepare for the film, they hung
out at a fire station for a few days. Another bit of
trivia is that Travolta flew the firefighters—who helped
them to prepare—to the film’s premiere in his own jet.
Blonde: What, are you telling me that you sit
around all day long watching talk shows and eating
Maven: First of all I hate Bon-Bons and secondly I was
simply doing research for our readers. And for your
information, it was M&M's that I was
Blonde: Ladder 49 makes a huge point of the strong
brotherhood between the guys and the devastation they
feel when one of their own gets killed in a fire. This
message comes through so clearly that you feel it in
your heart just as a viewer. It must be horrible in
Maven: Ladder 49 in my opinion has one major flaw. The
conflicts between the firefighters are mild. I expected
more drama from people who deal with all these
pressures. Maybe, I watch too much “Rescue Me” with
Denis Leary or "Third Watch.” Even though all my
emotional buttons were intentionally pressed, I still
enjoyed this film. I really felt for Joaquin's character
and think you will too. I rate it a B.
Blonde: I don't agree with you on that. But I did
find Ladder 49 to be about 20 minutes too long, but
nevertheless, quite enthralling. I was frustrated
because I was afraid to leave for a second to run to the
ladies room, for fear I might miss something! I urge you
not to drink four glasses of iced tea before seeing this
Maven: Or take a water pill like I did!
Blonde: I rate this film a B+. I suggest for your snacks
that you drink a touch of water, eat Red-Hots candy or
chew some Big Red gum. You may not want to light candles
for a while either.
P.S. Next time you see
a firefighter, just give him or her a hug and say thank
1. Firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin
Phoenix) and his mentor, Chief Mike Kennedy (John
Travolta), team up to battle a life-threatening blaze in
Touchstone Pictures’ and Beaacon Pictues’ action-drama,
Photo by Ron Phillips
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