For the most part, the movie is intensely entertaining. All the firefights are directed with care and style, and they create a sense that makes the viewers feel as though they’re in the situations presented as well. That said, there’s a crucial element left out of the mix: all the costars are barely explored. We learn hardly anything about them, and what remains is a lack of feeling for them when their lives are at stake. In fact, most of the scenes with them (outside of fighting fires) consist of playing pranks, ragging on each other, and doing a lot of drinking (and I’m talking a LOT). These scenes are as old, cliché, and predictable as the majority of the other flashback scenes. It’s the most basic outline a movie like this could follow; they start out by messing with the rookie, and then he makes some friends, meets a girl, gets married, has kids, and then reminisces on his what he has to lose in his life. The structure of it may be boring and expected, but fortunately the acting and direction is strong enough to prevent from it getting overly sappy. Then again, the main idea driving this movie is honoring firemen, so I guess it has good reason to let your emotions run high (or at least try to). *Semi-Spoilers Ahead* With that in mind, I think it’s vital to take note of how quick and unpleasant the film finishes. Instead of a feeling of sadness, I felt more confusion as I sat there going, “Wait, what happened? That’s it? What the hell!” I’m not bashing the ending itself, which certainly did a good job of portraying the movie’s theme, but the way it was delivered could have been better.
Commentary (Featuring director Jay Russell and editor Bud Smith): There are only two problems with this: there’s a lot of long pauses, and their voices are kind of annoying. Other than that, this is a must listen for big fans of the flick. They go in depth and explain plenty of interesting stories and details.
The Making of Ladder 49 (21:09): Three featurettes are presented with a play-all feature, including On Location (5:25), Fire Academy (7:11), and Anatomy of a Scene (8:33). They go through various aspects of the movie’s process including being on the set, the training the actors endured, and showing how they made one of the larger movie scenes. They give some interesting facts and let you take a look at what they went through. I have to say I appreciated the movie a lot more after watching this.
Everyday Heroes (13:38): A strong salute and tribute to firemen that perfectly complements this movie. There are stories, interviews, and various histories discussed by different real-life firefighters. Check it out.
5 Deleted Scenes (13:59): The scenes average to about 3 minutes each, and they’re not bad at all. It makes sense why they were cut, but they’re still worth watching (some of them are very interesting and show minor subplots).
These extras are rounded off with a Robbie Robertson “Shine Your Light” Music Video and a bunch of Trailer Previews for movies and TV shows.