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Ladder 49

Ladder 49 (2004)



Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 159
Fresh: 64 | Rotten: 95

Instead of humanizing the firemen, the movie idolizes them, and thus renders them into cardboard characters.


Average Rating: 5.2/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 21

Instead of humanizing the firemen, the movie idolizes them, and thus renders them into cardboard characters.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 342,709

My Rating

Movie Info

Baltimore firefighter Jack Morrison, making the transition from inexperienced rookie to seasoned veteran, struggles to cope with a risky, demanding job that often shortchanges his wife and kids. He relies on the support of his mentor and captain, Mike Kennedy and his second family--found in the brotherly bond between the men of the firehouse. But when Jack becomes trapped in the worst blaze of his career, his life and the things he holds important--family, dignity, courage--come into focus. As


Drama, Action & Adventure

Lewis Colick

Mar 8, 2005


Buena Vista - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (171) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (95) | DVD (35)

A serviceable testament to the firemen who would bravely risk their lives to protect the safety of others, etc., etc.

October 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ladder 49 might have been an oversized Hollywood dazzler. Phoenix keeps it firmly and modestly on a human scale.

October 1, 2004 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Offers audiences a real rarity in theaters these days: a good, honest cry.

October 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even the best scenes feel canned, secondhand, packaged. We've seen this all before.

October 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story of Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix), a guy so emotionally uncomplicated and unquestioningly dedicated to rescuing people he might have been raised by Saint Bernards.

October 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An action drama/weepie that's so busy telling us that its characters are heroes, it forgets that they should be people first.

October 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Except for Jack no one else in the film is very well defined, and it often falls back onto types. The actors are good, and make the best of what they've got, but what they've got is very thin.

March 29, 2011 Full Review Source:

Unabashed love letter to firefighters everywhere.

December 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A fairly routine firefighter drama, with burning-building sequences that more or less all look alike.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source:

It's slick and it honors firefighters as obviously as the first wave of WWII films paid tribute to America's fighting men and women.

July 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A well-crafted tribute to the many dedicated firefighters who risk life and limb to make our world a little safer.

October 25, 2006
Christianity Today

...has about the same amount of depth as an article from 'Boy's Life.'

July 25, 2005 Full Review Source:

Ladder 49 wants to honor firefighters for their courage and selflessness...yet at every turn [the film] undercuts itself.

April 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

A moving tribute [to firefighters] and an excellent dramatic work.

April 8, 2005

Heartfelt, predictable, and finally surprisingly poignant.

March 24, 2005 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Uma produção triste e - sim - uma bela homenagem aos combatentes do fogo.

January 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Ridiculous fabrications that, in no way, reflect real life.

January 24, 2005 Full Review Source: FilmFocus

The film also criminally wastes latino heart-throb Jay Hernandez, to the point where you suspect that he had a sub-plot that ended up on the cutting room floor.

January 24, 2005 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Good acting, and well-staged action scenes, but the characters are thinly drawn, and the story is dull.

January 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

....the story of a quotidian but nevertheless authentic hero

January 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A better name for "Ladder 49" would have been "Chutes and Ladders," like the game...

January 3, 2005 Full Review
Broomfield Enterprise

An overly manufactured would-be tearjerking package that will surely give less savvy moviegoers the illusion that they've watched an Important and Meaningful Film.

December 5, 2004 Full Review Source:

... after hitting me over the head with its conventional approach, I cried uncle and had to admit it did get to me.

November 17, 2004 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

A reasonably good, if predictable, meat-and-potatoes tearjerker.

November 16, 2004
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

The heroic firefighters of 9/11 deserve a better tribute than this tiresme and cliche tale.

November 14, 2004 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

It barely confronts the situations on a tormented, personal level -- as Martin Scorsese did when probing the spiritual agony of a paramedic in Bringing Out the Dead.

November 2, 2004 Full Review

Audience Reviews for Ladder 49

All my life, I've always wondered what it would be like to work as a firefighter. The excitement, the comradery and the opportunity to save lives. There's so many things that makes it an appealing career-choice. This movie captures it all really well, and gives you a good sense of what life must be like for these every-day heroes. Through some top notch directing and the dynamic chemistry between its cast members (with Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta at the peak of their talent), we are treated to a highly absorbing experience, filled with humor, action and intense dramatic moments. Quite sad in a lot of places, but a movie that I'm glad I gave the chance. Because what I had initially dismissed as a standard-type drama, actually had a lot more to give than I gave it credit for. So if you're gonna watch a movie about fire-fighting, this is definitely the one to go for.
January 14, 2011
Mike S

Super Reviewer

A very good, action drama about the life of a firefighter seen in flashbacks. It's quite entertaining, seeing him work his way from rookie to the experienced fireman and how things change over the years. A very fine cast it has to be added and the fire, action scenes are really good. Well worth checking out.
August 25, 2010

Super Reviewer

Quite possibly the worst Joaquin Phoenix film. Ladder 49 is a crappy drama film with overused cliches and we've already seen it all before. A bad Fireman film this is just a pointless excuse for a film. I view this film as a Backdraft ripoff, it borrows from many plot elements from that film. Ladder 49 never really does anything very dramatic as it follows closely every dramatic cliche in the book, in other words; we've seen it all before.
A total waste of time and definitely not a good film. A film with bad script, bad acting and bad plot, this is a film to miss.
August 6, 2010
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

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