World Trade Center Review
By Joe Lozito
I was worried walking into Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center". Not that it was "too soon" for a 9/11 movie. Paul Greengrass' raw "United 93"
proved that to be untrue. I had other concerns. I was worried that Oliver Stone would take this opportunity to get on his soapbox about some conspiracy or another. I was worried that Nicolas Cage would continue his string of oddball performances. And most of all, I was worried that a Hollywood film about 9/11 would be rife with swelling strings and easy answers. For the most part my fears were unfounded. That's not to say that "World Trade Center" is a perfect film. But it's a film worthy of its subject matter.
The film revolves around the true story of John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, two Port Authority cops who miraculously survived in the rubble beneath the towers. As played by Nicolas Cage (at his most restrained) and Michael Peña, respectively, John and Will are two classic New Yawkers, loving family men and good solid cops. On that fateful day, they - like most other police and fire fighting units - are called down to Ground Zero to assist. Having worked during the '93 Trade Center bombing, John is a good candidate to lead.
As in "Apollo 13", knowing the outcome only adds to the power of these opening moments. As John assembles his team and heads in, we know (all too well) what few minutes of safety they have left. No sooner do they gather the necessary equipment than the Towers come down on them. The rest of the film is spent fighting for survival in the rubble as their devoted wives (played dutifully by Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal) struggle to cope with an impossible situation.
There's nothing in "World Trade Center" to match those harrowing first thirty minutes. The script by Andrea Berloff carefully walks the line between reverence and worship, emotion and manipulation. With only a few exceptions, the material is handled with surprisingly delicacy. This is easily Mr. Stone's most thoughtful film (when was the last time an Oliver Stone movie was called "thoughtful"?) though he probably works best when he's more passionate and free to ruffle a few feathers. "World Trade Center" is difficult to watch based solely on the events it portrays, but with its welcomed catharsis it's not likely to offend many.
I was in Manhattan on September 11th; I have my own story. Watching "WTC", it's strange to look at the New York skyline and realize the Twin Towers are a special effect. There could be a movie made about every life affected by that day. For John and Will, this is a loving, respectful, much-deserved tribute.