World Trade Center Review
by Alex Billington
August 10, 2006
To be honest, it's hard to think about reviewing a movie that touches so deeply in the hearts and minds of many Americans. However, World Trade Center is a film that luckily doesn't have much to critique and on the contrary is rather an enjoyable and fulfilling movie. Oliver Stone has put together a film that allows us to look back on the tragic event in a briefly sad way in memory of the many individuals who lost their lives, specifically the Port Authority Police, but at the same time keeping the movie lighthearted (and faintly comical) as well as hopeful in the end. The movie runs just over 2 hours yet moves at a swift pace relaying back and forth between the two officers pinned beneath 20 feet of rubble and steel beams and their families as well as the remainder of the emergency crews waiting to begin searching for survivors.
The story largely surrounds two Port Authority Police officers who get trapped in the rubble after the two towers collapsed and both of their families' continual battle for hopefulness and from grief. The beginning quickly pulls the audience right into the "action" and events on September 11th yet without replaying the images and video that we all became so accustom to seeing. The story sticks to the Port Authority Police and their journey into the buildings before their eventual collapse. The movie then spends the remainder on the two men trapped and their personal and emotional struggles to stay awake and survive as long as they can. Despite that John McLoughlin (played by Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (played by Michael PeÃ±a) are unable to move more than one arm and much of the camera work only shows their faces, the movie was able to keep a hopeful story continuously progressing while bringing their emotions to the forefront. In addition, to keep the audience from being bored of 2 hours of just two men's faces trapped underground, it fades between John and Will's wives and families and their own emotional struggles and attempts at finding out whether or not they're alive.
Nicolas Cage put forth a phenomenal performance that realistically mirrored the true feelings of the real life John McLoughlin. His character was powerful and touching, driving our own reaction entirely based on his facial and vocal performance once trapped. Michael PeÃ±a's acting was much more stiff and seemed to lack some of the meticulous details that Nicolas Cage was able to portray. In the same, the two wives, Donna McLoughlin (played by Maria Bello) and Allison Jimeno (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), also did not deliver stellar performances as the leading females.
Oliver Stone was able to take an incredibly tragic event in our history and turn it into a movie of hope and patriotism. The movie was able to flow smoothly and keep the attention of the audience as well as build the characters and express their exact emotions perfectly. We are all familiar with what happened, how it happened, and all of the other details, but this movie was not about the event as a whole, but rather about these two survivors and their accounts of what happened to them and their families.
Although World Trade Center didn't end up being a riveting edge-of-your-seat drama that left me consistently excited, it was a fulfilling and enjoyable movie that gave us all a sense of patriotism. At times the conversations back and forth between the two men could seem boring, but it all played out as an integral connection in just how these two survived. Oliver Stone has created flops in the past (Alexander) and also successes (Platoon), but this time for World Trade Center, he's done quite well.
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