Patriotic Movie Review: "World Trade Center"

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Rating: PG-13
Length: 129 minutes
Release Date: August 09, 2006
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Genre: Drama / History / Thriller

The events of September 11, 2001, have been ingrained in the hearts and minds of individuals across the United States, and such an important historical event surely deserves to be immortalized in a cinematic retelling. "World Trade Center" examines the fall of the Twin Towers through the eyes of two police officers who risk everything to rescue survivors. When they find themselves trapped under the rubble, however, their own lives hang in the balance. This story of heroism, compassion and perseverance is sure to leave audiences with a renewed sense of patriotism.

The film begins on September 11, before the tragic event takes place. Police officers John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Connor Paolo) are patrolling the Port Authority Bus Terminal when they catch a glimpse of a low-flying plane. Not long after they return to the station, they learn that one of the World Trade Center's towers has been hit. They gather together as many officers as possible to try to evacuate civilians in the tower, as they scramble to the site by bus. Total dread begins to overtake them when they hear that the South Tower has also been ht.

When they arrive, the site before them is disastrous, as smoke rises from the towers. They immediately gather their equipment and head to the area between the two buildings. When another officer informs them that the hit may have been an attack, McLoughlin and Jimeno refuse to believe it. As they prepare themselves for entry, they look up to see that the South Tower is quickly collapsing. The officers must think fast to save themselves, so they head to a service elevator shaft for shelter from the falling debris. Several men do not make it, and only McLoughlin, Jimeno and an officer named Pezzulo (Jay Hernandez) are trapped in the shaft.

Pezzulo is able to free himself, but he soon sees that his two comrades are pinned under the rubble. He attempts to free them, but he is severely wounded in the process. He fires a gun to alert rescue teams of their position, but minutes tick by, and they hear no response. In the outside world, McLoughlin and Jimeno's families are distraught, and rescue efforts continue. It is not long before the trapped officers hear more ominous rumbling as the North Tower begins to collapse. As their condition worsens, the officers must do what they can to keep hope, and their bodies, alive until someone can find them.

"World Trade Center" is a fast-paced film that effectively captures the drama, despair and seriousness surrounding the collapse of the Twin Towers while creating a cinematic experience that keeps audiences' toes curled as they wait to see who will make it out alive. The shifting perspectives of the trapped officers and their families help to connect viewers with the very real characters, and the mixture of archival footage with new shots helps to create a sense of realism. The use of straightforward storytelling and carefully crafted special effects further add to the cinematic illusion.

Oliver Stone has been hailed as a master of controversial subjects, having directed numerous politically charged films like "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Nixon." Audiences were understandably worried that "World Trade Center" would spend its time pointing fingers. However, this film was a pleasant surprise, focusing more on the heroism of the police officers than on who was responsible for the attacks. In this way, Stone has created a patriotic film that brings individuals from both sides of the political fence together to appreciate those who risked their lives to rescue survivors.

Still, some viewers may see the scope of the film as too narrow, focusing only on two individuals when there were hundreds of other stories to tell. However, the limited scope allows the film to connect viewers with the characters and their families, giving the film more impact. In addition, the straightforward storytelling feels a bit formulaic, and filmmakers could have added more character to the plot with more character-specific dialog and other techniques. In the end, these minor nuisances keep the film from reaching its full potential, although the talented cast and realistic cinematography still make it a worthwhile film.

Despite some minor flaws, "World Trade Center" is certainly an exciting film that also happens to tell one of the most relevant stories of recent history. Cage and Paolo give heart-wrenching performances as the struggling officers, and the rest of the cast creates a tense, dramatic atmosphere that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. For people of all political backgrounds, "World Trade Center" is well worth watching.