In paying simple tribute to firefighters, Ladder 49
gets to the heart of those who risk their lives for a living. Director Jay Russell brought similar sincerity to his memorable family favorite My Dog Skip
, and despite the banalities of an ultra-conventional screenplay by Lewis Colick, Ladder 49
generates so much goodwill toward its Baltimore firemen that you may find yourself unexpectedly overcome with emotional appreciation for guys like Jack (Joaquin Phoenix), a firefighter whose career, courtship, marriage, and fatherhood are viewed in flashback as he struggles to survive in the present-day framing scenes, cut off from his fellow firemen in the fiery guts of a collapsing 20-floor building. There are no surprises in the familiar scenes of male bonding, dangerous rescues, injury and death, and the supportive concern of Jack's wife (Jacinda Barrett), but by focusing on the simple integrity of Jack's personal and professional commitment, the movie gives Phoenix a showcase for unselfish virtue, while John Travolta provides dignified support as Jack's mentor and devoted firehouse captain. Ladder 49
is routine in most respects, but it's a much-deserved valentine to working-class heroes. --Jeff Shannon
Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta ignite intense action in LADDER 49 on Blu-ray Disc. Packed with adventure and suspense, this star-powered saga goes above and beyond the call of duty in this explosive new format. Firefighter Jack Morrison (Phoenix) grows from inexperienced rookie to seasoned veteran in a job that makes him a hero to strangers yet often shortchanges his family -- until he becomes trapped in the worst blaze of his career and must decide who and what are important to him. Feel the heat from searing special effects in 1080p, and hear the scream of sirens with 5.1 48 kHz, 24-bit uncompressed audio. Fully experience this tale of uncommon courage with Blu-ray High Definition!