Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ladder 49 (2004)

Synopsis: Joaquin Phoenix volunteers for an extremely dangerous job, even though is cute girlfriend doesn’t want him to do so, and…. Oh, sorry - that’s the synopsis for We Own the Night
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “Academy Award-nominated stars Joaquin Phoenix (Best Supporting Actor, Gladiator, 2000) and John Travolta (Best Actor, Pulp Fiction) ignite the intense action in this heroic tale of ordinary men with uncommon courage!” 
What Did I Learn?: Apparently, it’s really easy to deconstruct a brick wall in minutes, using nothing but a piece of rebar. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You take ladder safety very, very seriously. 
Really?: 1) See: “What Did I Learn?” 2) Funny how we’re told nothing about Jack Morrison’s family or background, aside from his religious affiliation. Does he come from a long line of firemen? Was he expected to enter the profession, or was this entirely his decision? 3) Did anyone else think it was a bit selfish and irresponsible for Jack to ask for a transfer from engine duty (i.e. putting out fires with a hose) to truck duty (rescue work), which is much more dangerous job, when he has a wife and several children to think about? 
Rating: Ladder 49 is a treacly, and highly disappointing post-9/11 celebration of firemen that tries too hard to paint these brave individuals only as heroes, and doesn’t put much effort into reminding us they’re still ordinary men with ambitions, hopes, fears, etc… An obvious comparison would be Dennis Leary’s TV series Rescue Me, except that nobody who drinks a bit too much in this movie ever becomes an alcoholic, marriages stay intact, and Phoenix’s character knows exactly the right things to say when his kids express legitimate fears for his safety. Oh, and Leary’s show was often funny, compelling, and sometimes even provided some insights into a difficult and misunderstood job. I cannot recommend this movie. 3/10 stars. 
Would it Work For a Bad Movie Night?: Probably not, but take a drink any time somebody mentions that “firemen run into a burning building when everybody else is running out” line. Once is fine, but it’s used on several occasions.

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