(In theaters, October 2004) In this post-9/11 era where firefighters are the new demigods of civic responsibility, funding for a movie such as Ladder 49 comes naturally. Even the trite by-the-numbers script plays it safe in a transparent attempt to mythologize the plight of the ordinary firefighter. The result is a sure-fire populist hit and film likely to be a firehouse fixture for years to come. For those with an average interest in firefighters, however, all that’s left is an ordinary drama that makes to attempts at being a thriller (unlike Backdraft) or more than a straight-up biographic drama. This is a life (or maybe an instructional video), not a story. Save for a manipulative framing device, events simply happen without dramatic tension or surprises. Is it earnest or calculated? I suspect that those who go for the film just won’t care.