WORLD TRADE CENTER
*** (out of 5)
August 9, 2006
Nicolas Cage as JOHN MCLOUGHLIN
Michael Pena as WILL JIMENO
Maggie Gyllenhaal as ALLISON JIMENO
Maria Bello as DONNA MCLOUGHLIN
Stephen Dorff as SCOTT STRAUSS
Jay Hernandez as DOMINICK PEZZULO
Michael Shannon as DAVE KARNES
Directed by: Oliver Stone
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
When I first heard that Oliver Stone was going to make a movie about 9/11, I cringed. I literally cringed. I think a lot of people did.
After seeing a string of Stone’s films, including “JFK” and “Nixon,” in which he took wild liberties with the facts and at times tried to rewrite history, I was terrified of what he might do to the history of five years ago.
I went into the film, bracing myself to be assaulted and insulted with wild conspiracy theories of how Bush and Bin Laden cooked up a scheme with Elvis and Bigfoot as they secretly took trips to the face on Mars.
However, as the story played out, a strange thing happened. Stone never went there. Possibly the most controversial director in the country (second to Michael Moore, of course) actually managed to make a sober, cogent, intelligent story about the real life heroes that stepped up to the plate on September 11, 2001.
The movie follows two Port Authority policemen who go into the World Trade Center to save people from the upper floors. When the first tower collapses, they are trapped beneath more than 20 feet for rubble for more than 12 hours. We see them struggle to stay alive in the hell hole, and we also cut back and forth to their families back home as they wait, helplessly, to hear any word of their loved ones’ survival.
Stone makes some strong choices in not sensationalizing the plane crashes. There aren’t any Michael Bay shots of the planes screaming across the sky in full CGI glory. Instead, all of the crashes happen off screen and are replayed in news footage in the background, which is how most of us witnessed the events.
By telling the story from the points of view of the people on the ground, we see the raw human emotion, and we understand their uncertainty and confusion. The film captures the tension and chaos of New York on that day, and the movie itself is refreshingly free from Oliver Stone’s traditional filmmaking style.
So is it too soon? Of course it is. It is always going to be too soon. It was too soon when “United 93” was released a couple months ago, and it’s too soon now. However, we need to have these kind of movies come out to remind us what happened on that day.
After five years of aftermath and politics, we have gotten so wrapped up in what came after 9/11 that we forget what happened on that dark day in American history. We forget that the terrorists didn’t strike out at Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, the new Bush administration or the still slightly warm Clinton administration.
The terrorists stuck at America, and those thousands of people who lost their lives that day became victims not because of their politics, but rather simply because of where they lived and who they were.
This is something that needs to come back into the public discussion because, contrary to what we might want to believe, there are still people out there (and in this country) that want to do this again.
Movies like “United 93” and “World Trade Center” are painful to watch, but they’re necessary for us to keep the victims’ memories alive, outside of politics. And they will help us to never, never, never forget.