A suspenseful, heartfelt film that is sure to leave you shivering with excitement!

Once every year or so, there are three stand out films that are released that are so suspenseful that you shiver in excitement, wondering what will make you jump out of your seat or who will die next. The first two movies of the year so far. Collateral and Resident Evil 2, possess all of the qualities of a good old suspense film. Now, with the release of “Ladder 49,” we not only get a action packed thriller but also a wonderfully made film about firemen and the risks that they face everyday when they go on the job.

“Ladder 49” starts off in suspense style. Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) and the rest of “Ladder 49” are sent into a building that’s being ravaged with fire for a search and rescue. Led by Chief Kennedy (John Travolta), the firemen put their lives on the line to save a few select men.

While everyone in the building is reporting back to the ground. Jack finds a man and helps save him. But the only way to do so is to so is to take him high into the building where the fire hadn’t burnt yet. The chief directs him to the 15th floor (how convenient) and helps Jack to get the man to safety.

But, an explosion rips throughout the building, tearing the building from top to bottom. A hole opens up in the ground where Jack is standing and just like that, he falls 15 stories down onto sharp cement bricks. With his leg broken and the fire blocking basically all of his exits, he can do nothing except sit back against the wall, wait for “Ladder 49” to come and pick him up… and think back on his life on as a fireman and figure out all of the ways it blessed his life.

The best and most suspenseful parts of the movie are the flashbacks to Jack’s past. Here, we are introduced to a young and shy Jack Morrison. Everyone calls him “Rookie” and don’t seem to give him proper respect. The first time he meets Chief Kennedy, he looks like a drunk who doesn’t know a cat from a dog. He directs him to a confession area, apparently a place where your supposed to go when you’re a “Rookie”. Here, we see the true power of the screenplay as Joaquin Phoenix and the rest of “Ladder 49” joke around with each other.

But don’t think that the whole movie consists of little tiny snippets of his life. The flashbacks are sometimes half an hour long! And while the joking and laughter and danger goes on in his past. Jack is still waiting for his team to rescue him… will “Ladder 49” save him or will he die an untimely, fiery death?

I’ll let you check out me movie to find out yourself, I know that you won’t be disappointed.

Joaquain Phoenix sort of surprised me with this role. After just starring in “The Village”, he jumps right back into the big screen with style. I’m used to him playing in sci-fi drama roles, but this is his first big standout role in a while. The way he transforms from a young rookie who can’t even hold a hose right to a loving and caring father who is now me best fireman that a fire department could ask for is really interesting to watch, John Travolte also delivers a wonderful performance, though no where near as good as Phoenix’s. You can tell that as the movie goes along, he really begins to care for Jack and the safety of him.

So, thinking back on the movie, I realize this: Not only is this movie a tribute to firefighters who died in 9/11, but also a good insight on how people can change over time. This was a really interesting movie and left me thinking about an interesting quote, said by Chief Kennedy. “Why is it that while everyone’s running out of a burning building, we’re running into it? Courage, I tell them…” Yes, courage indeed. Chief Kennedy.



OVERALL GRADE: A-


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