We had no expectations for this, and pretty much liked it. Predictable, I’ll grant you, and some say it exploited all the dead firemen from 9/11. I prefer to think it honored them. I know I’ve never felt quite the same about firefighters since that horrible day. Ladder 49 is organized as a man reviewing his life, from rookiehood to the day he is trapped in a huge burning building with very little chance of getting away live. But his comrades keep fighting hopeless odds. It is more accurate than any fire movie I’ve ever seen, most of which totally ignore smoke, the better to see the action.
Interesting detail: The filming of the big warehouse fire in Baltimore was close to the freeway, and thousands of calls flooded into the fire department, to the point they had to put out emergency bulletins on radio and TV telling people what was going on. I sort of wondered, watching it, how many big-budget action movies will be made in the future with “real” effects this big. They can do the old big challenges of scale-model work, fire and water and smoke, in computers these days … hell, they can do almost anything.