Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jay Russell|
|Produced by||Casey Silver|
|Written by||Lewis Colick|
|Music by||William Ross|
|Cinematography||James L. Carter|
|Editing by||Bud S. Smith
M. Scott Smith
Casey Silver Productions
|Distributed by||Touchstone Pictures|
|Release date(s)||October 1, 2004 (USA)|
|Running time||115 minutes|
Ladder 49 is a 2004 film, directed by Jay Russell, about the heroics of fictional Baltimore firefighter 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 lifestyle associated with it.
The film opens with Baltimore firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix)'s saving a man's life in a massive four-alarm grain elevator/warehouse fire in the Canton waterfront 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 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, other 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 Baltimore City Fire Department (BCFD) Engine Company 33. It is quartered in a firehouse with Truck Company 49, 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. Engine 33 and Ladder 49 respond. Jack and Mike are the first firefighters to tackle the blaze, and they quickly extinguish it.
After some time working with Engine 33, Jack is at the scene of a fire where a fellow firefighter from 49 Truck, Dennis Gauquin (Billy Burke), dies after falling through a roof of a burning, vacant rowhouse. Jack 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 initially worries about his safety and opposes the change. However, she eventually accepts his new role and even talks him out of taking an administrative position Mike offers him.
As the years go by, Jack suffers some traumatic experiences, including rescuing a man from the ledge of a burning highrise building in Downtown Baltimore, and witnessing the severe injury of another friend and fellow firefighter Tommy Drake (Morris Chestnut), following a steam explosion at an industrial fire.
One 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 fellow Firefighter Lenny Richter (Robert Patrick). Both firefighters receive the department's Medal of Valor for their actions.
Back at the grain building fire that opened the film, Jack's fellow firefighters become extremely determined to rescue him, and Jack does his best to reach the possible safe area Mike told him about. However, upon reaching that room he sees that the only exit is cut off by raging flames, and Jack realizes 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 in celebration of Jack's life, which inspires a standing ovation 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 Mike and Jack's coming out of Jack's first ever burning building.
- Joaquin Phoenix as Firefighter Jack Morrison, Ladder 49 (formerly Engine 33)
- John Travolta as Deputy Chief (formerly Captain) Mike Kennedy, Deputy Chief 1 (formerly Engine 33)
- Robert Patrick as Firefighter Leonard "Lenny" Richter, Ladder 49
- Jacinda Barrett as Linda Morrison
- Morris Chestnut as Firefighter Tommy Drake, Ladder 49 Tillerman
- Balthazar Getty as Firefighter Ray Gauquin, Ladder 49
- Billy Burke as Firefighter Dennis Gauquin, Ladder 49
- Tim Guinee as Captain Tony Corrigan, Ladder 49
- Kevin Chapman as Frank McKinney, Engine 33
- Jay Hernandez as Probationary Firefighter Keith Perez, Engine 33
- Kevin Daniels as Firefighter Engineer Don Miller, Engine 33
- Steve Maye as Firefighter Pete Lamb, Engine 33
- Robert Logan Lewis as Firefighter Ed Reilly, Ladder 49
- Spencer Berglund as Nicky Morrison
- Brooke Hamlin as Katie Morrison
- Sam Stockdale as Himself
- Paul Novak, Jr. as the Dispatcher
Ladder 49 grossed $74,463,263 at the US box office and $102,332,848 worldwide, and has generally received mixed reviews. It received a rating of 3.5 out of 4 stars from Roger Ebert, and it has received an overall rating of 47/100 from Metacritic, based on 32 reviews, resulting in "Mixed or Average Reviews."
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2013)|
There is an actual Engine Company 33 in the Baltimore City Fire Department; however, there is no Ladder 49. Also, Ladder Companies are referred to as "Truck" Companies in Baltimore; thus Ladder 49 would really be designated as "Truck 49". The highest Truck Company number in the BCFD is Truck 30. Also, the fire department dispatching heard during the film accurately portrays the fire dispatch protocol used by the BCFD.
The firehouse used in the film was the former quarters of Engine 33, a real company in the BCFD, located at 1751 Gorsuch Ave. The firehouse was closed in 2000 when Engine 33 moved to a new firehouse several blocks away. However, the building was refurbished back to it's original condition for the filming.
See also 
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ladder 49|
- Ladder 49 at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ladder 49 at AllRovi
- Ladder 49 at the Internet Movie Database
- Ladder 49 at Box Office Mojo