User Rating: Very Good
Pros:Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Music
Cons:Story drags and doesn't take notice of the thousands of other victims
The Bottom Line: World Trade Center has some good moments but the soap opera segments reduce the effectiveness of the key performances by Nic Cage and Michael Pena.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
World Trade Center (2006)
I saw World Trade Center last night at the AMC Stonecrest 16 in Lithonia, Georgia.
Not watching much TV, I didnt have any preconceived notions going into the film - well, thats not entirely true; the fact that Oliver Stone directed made a little uh oh go off in my mind, I must admit. Stone has made some colossal flops, as well as some good movies, but hes not my favorite director, not by a long shot.
If youre looking for conspiracy theories, which, with Oliver Stone (JFK) at the helm, you have good reason to expect, youll not find them here. In and amongst the whirl of events that took place on September 11, 2001, World Trade Center zeroes in on the small story of a couple of NYC cops who were pulled out of the wreckage alive, a day and a half after the collapse of the buildings. A graphic at the end of the movie reminds us that over 2,000 people were killed in the debacle and that only 20 people were brought forth from that wreckage alive.
Nicolas Cage is the patrol sergeant with the Bus Terminal police, part of the NYC Port Authority. He and his men are shown going through their daily routine until something happened at the World Trade Center. As first responders, they have a job to do so they collect their gear and head down to the massive complex.
They are met with a chaotic scene of destruction, with debris falling and papers blowing, and arent certain just what or where the damage is. There is another store of oxygen cylinders at the WTC police station so they stop by to get them. As they are going through the concourse they hear a loud series of booms and realize the building is caving in. Cage directs his team to the elevator shafts as that is the strongest part of the building. The men are trapped below unimaginable tons of concrete and steel.
As he tries to get his men to sound off, it comes down to the fact that only two are left, and one not for long. Both men are pinned and completely unable to move. Through the long hours they keep each other awake talking about various things. As time elapses, further collapses occur, the most frightening being fireballs that hurtle by narrowly missing the trapped men. One of the dead mens pistols is engulfed by a fireball and spontaneously cooks off its ammunition, adding another tense moment as the bullets whiz everywhere.
To balance the utter boredom of watching the two men (Nic Cage and Michael Pena) lie there totally immobilized, Stone cuts to the families tensely awaiting word of their loved ones.
Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal play the wives, and a little of their performances go a long way. Unfortunately, Stone focused about half the running time on their waiting and we are left with a clichéd soap opera punctuated with some pretty compelling footage of the cave-in and the men waiting for rescue. As a small aside, I was wondering what about all the other nearly 3,000 people that were in that wreckage? Its as if they dont even exist and I think Stone would have had a better film if he had included at least a little bit about some of them.
A third character is introduced, and I thought this fits in perfectly with Stones whacked out conspiracy theories a former Marine, born again Christian, dons his fatigue uniform and goes down to the WTC looking for survivors. But no - Staff Sergeant Karnes actually is a real character and his efforts led to the discovery of the two police officers and their subsequent rescue.
World Trade Center has excellent footage of the debris and uses television reports to depict the actual real time destruction, so it has a good level of authenticity in that respect. Nic Cage and Michael Pena do well as the two trapped police officers; there are some nice touches in the family scenes but the two wives are way too Hollywood for a couple of housewives. There are lots of cutesy kid moments that take away from the gravity of the admittedly somber subject. Original music by Craig Armstrong is well suited to the visuals.
I liked World Trade Center but it was draggy and could have easily lost a half hour of the 125 minute running time, particularly in the Hollywood wives and cutesy kids segments, thus making it a better film. Therefore, I give it average - not too bad and not too good, either.
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Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV