Ladder 49 is a 2004 film about the heroics of a Baltimore fireman Jack Morrison, who is trapped inside a warehouse fire and his recollection of the events that got him to that point. The movie is a celebration of the firefighting profession and the life that comes with it. It was directed by Jay Russell.
The film opens with Baltimore firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) saving a man's life in a massive 4-Alarm grain elevator/warehouse Fire in the waterfront Canton neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. However, the grain being stored in the warehouse explodes, sending Jack falling through several floors, landing and breaking his leg. The film follows the efforts of the other men in his unit, Ladder Company 49, led by the efforts of Deputy Chief Mike Kennedy (John Travolta), his longtime mentor, to rescue him while Jack tries to reach a safe area of the burning structure. Interspersed with the current rescue efforts are a series of flashbacks showing how Jack joined the fire department, his meeting with the woman who would become his wife (Jacinda Barrett), his relationship with his children and the bonds he formed, and trials and tribulations he endured with his fellow firefighters.
After graduating from the fire academy, Jack is sent to work on BCFD Engine Company 33, where he learns the ropes about firefighting. He quickly becomes close friends with his fellow firefighters, including Mike Kennedy, his captain at the time. His first fire takes place at a burning rowhouse, where Engine 33 and Ladder Company 49(stationed in the same firehouse) respond to. While there, he and Mike are the first firefighters to tackle the blaze and quickly extinguish it. After some time working with Engine 33, Jack is at the scene of a fire where a fellow firefighter from Ladder 49 dies after falling through a roof of a burning vacant rowhouse. He decides, although it is more dangerous, to take his friend's position as a search and rescue member on Ladder 49 by transferring. He finds the work rewarding, but his wife is initially concerned for his safety and opposes the change; however, she eventually accepts his new role and even talks him out of taking an administrative position when it is offered to him by Mike. As the years go by, Jack suffers some traumatic experiences, including rescuing a man from the ledge of a burning high-rise building in Downtown Baltimore, and witnessing another friend's severe injury following a steam explosion at an industrial fire. On Christmas Eve, Jack and the members of Engine 33 and Ladder 49 respond to a burning apartment building. Jack is able to break through to a small girl trapped in an engulfed apartment, but is trapped himself briefly before being rescued by Firefighter Lenny Richter (Robert Patrick). Both firefighters receive the department's Medal of Valor for their actions.
Back at the grain building fire, Jack's fellow firefighters become extremely determined to rescue him and Jack does his best to reach the possible safe area that Mike told him about. However, upon reaching that room he sees that the only exit is cut off by raging flames and Jack realizes that his situation is hopeless. He radios Mike to pull his men back, so no-one else will be hurt while trying to rescue him. Mike reluctantly agrees and Jack accepts his fate to die in the fire, devastating Mike. At Jack's funeral, Mike delivers an emotional eulogy which ends with a standing ovation, in celebration of Jack's life, from friends and family in attendance. Jack's body is then carried to his resting place with full honors on the back of Engine 33. The film ends with Mike and his fellow firefighters going on a call and a final shot of him and Jack coming out of Jack's first ever burning building.
Jack Morrison: Tell Linda I love her... That I've loved her from the second I saw her.
Jack Morrison: (Latched onto a frantic man while hanging from a rope) Calm down! Sir - you need to calm down! I swear to God I'll drop you!
Jack Morrison: You know, Mike asked me tonight if I loved the job like I did before, and for the first time in my life, I didn't know what to say.
|Release Date||20 September 2004|
|US Box Office||$74,000,000|
|Tagline||A bond forged by fire is never broken.|
|Genre||Action, Drama, Thriller|
|Filming Locations||Baltimore, Maryland, USA|
|Sound Mix||DTS, Dolby Digital, SDDS|
|Film Class||Melodrama, Family Drama|
|Themes||Daring Rescues, Fathers and Daughters, Redemption|
|Tones||Earnest, Gritty, Tense, Warm|