Movie Review
World Trade Center
World Trade Center poster
By Craig Younkin     Published August 16, 2006
US Release: August 9, 2006

Directed by: Oliver Stone
Starring: Maria Bello , Nicolas Cage , Maggie Gyllenhaal , Jay Hernandez

Running Time: 129 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $70,278,893
This movie is a love letter to these police officers as well as the many firemen, and their unwillingness to leave anyone behind should never be forgotten.
"World Trade Center" tells the story of two Port Authority cops, John McLoughlin (Nicholas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena), who after going in to rescue those inside the Center, find themselves trapped under the rubble. It shows their incredible spirit and will as they fight to stay alive long enough for rescue workers to come and dig them out.

So Oliver Stone?s latest flick is apolitical, and from what I can see, that is basically the biggest thing wrong with it. There has been a lot of talk in the news about whether or not it?s too soon for a 9/11 film. I don?t think it?s too soon. I feel we faced that day. We all know what happened; we felt for the families, the people who plunged out of the buildings, those that lost their lives. We saw the bravery and heroism as well as the horrors that came from that day. It?s that we know all these things already that make "World Trade Center" less effective than we would like it to be.

"United 93" earlier this year ? the best of the year so far ? took more of a chance. It told us of the governmental and defensive shortcomings, as well as the harrowing story of the passengers in the air who saved a lot of lives with no one on the ground ever realizing the horror of that day could have been magnified by just one more plane.

As we watch "Trade Center,? there are certain things that just seem to sit on the screen. The families, led by Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the two grieving wives, don?t really add much till the last half-hour of the movie. I also would have liked to know more about Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon), a former marine who walked away from his office building that day, threw on his fatigues, and became an integral part in finding the men. The movie at times just seems too slight.

Stone?s best work on the film comes buried beneath the buildings where the two heroes wait to be rescued ? whether they survive or not is the not question; it?s how the two manage to keep each other alive while they face tremendous odds. It?s a claustrophobic situation in which everything from flaming debris to a loaded gun is there to make the entire situation worse. Your heart goes out to these guys, and the performances by Cage and Pena are top-notch. Cage in particular does a tremendous job of playing a man whose body is slowly collapsing under a serious amount of weight. This movie is a love letter to these police officers as well as the many firemen, rescue workers and marines, and their courage and unwillingness to leave anyone behind should never be forgotten.

Only like that day, we need to move on and start asking questions. Courage and valor should definitely be honored, but what happened on that day has already been fully realized by all of America, on the news, in the papers, and in our daily lives. It is this that makes "World Trade Center" not a bad film, but territory that can never have the same weight on film that it does in our hearts and minds. At this point I feel that both of those organs are ready to embrace the questions, theories, etc. that have led to where we are in regards to terrorism and war today. And in my mind, I feel that Stone is the perfect man to do that.

So in that way, "World Trade Center" manages to capture the courage as well as the anger of that day, and looks to be a good predecessor to an edgier and more searching film. As Dave Karnes says at the end of the movie, "Someone needs to avenge what happened here." One can?t help but think Stone has some revenge of his own planned.
Craig's Grade: B
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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