Ladder 49: A Film with Heart

Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta in Ladder 49.

By Irish Ameica Staff
December / January 2005

Much has been written about fire-fighters since 9/11, and while no film could do justice to the heroism of the country’s “bravest,” Ladder 49 does a good job of exploring the everyday lives of firefighters, the dangers involved, and the emotional impact on families.

Starting Joaquin Phoenix (fire-fighter Jack Morrison) and John Travolta (Chief Mike Kennedy), and directed by Jay Russell, Ladder 49 is based on firefighters in Baltimore. The movie was originally set in New York, but Russell felt that it was too soon after 9/11. “If we went ahead and did it in New York, it was going to end up being about that day,” Russell said. “I wanted to tell a story that had a larger point to make.”

The film belongs to Joaquin Phoenix (Spanish/Irish on his father’s side) who turns in a devastating performance as Morrison. Throughout the film we follow Morrison from rookie firefighter, when he meets his future wife Linda (Australian Jacinta Barrett), to member of the elite rescue squad, and father of two, who puts everything on the line to save a life. It is guaranteed you will walk away from this film with a greater appreciation for the men and women who fight fires for a living. ♦

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