Ladder 49

September 16, 2005 - John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix star in this 2004 drama that revolves around a fire station in Baltimore. Robert Patrick and Jacinda Barrett (from The Real World: London) also star. Jay Hernandez (who went on to a larger part in Friday Night Lights) also appears.

Phoenix plays firefighter Jack Morrison. It's his job to search through burning buildings and try to rescue anyone he finds. As the movie opens, he saves a man trapped on the 12th floor of an industrial complex. But, before Jack can get out, there's a collapse. He falls several stories and is trapped.

While he waits to be rescued, Jack recalls his life and career. He remembers meeting Capt. Mike Kennedy (Travolta), who's now the deputy chief leading the rescue effort. He remembers meeting Linda (Barrett) in a grocery store, then eventually marrying her and having two children. He remembers the time when he rescued a girl from a burning building and received a commendation. He remembers having the opportunity to take a safer job in the fire department - and turning it down.

Overall review: ** (and a half) It's an OK movie. There are some fun moments here, but Phoenix is an odd actor. He's so low-key that you almost want to shake him and say, "Show some emotion, dammit!" Travolta is steady, and there's plenty of fire to keep things heated up. Still, the movie just seems like it's missing "something." I'm not sure what it is - emotion, suspense, a surprise. I don't know, but it never manages to rise above what it is.