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World Trade Center
Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-free 9/11 film
World Trade Center
Nicolas Cage in Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center".
OPENING WEEKEND: $34,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $115,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

March 9th, 2006: Based on actual events that occurred on September 11, 2001, the film chronicles two Port Authority policemen’s battle for survival underneath the World Trade Center rubble following the terrorist attacks. John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) are among the initial officers dispatched to the scene of disaster after the first tower is hit. The two form a rescue group, gather supplies, and rush to the site. While they’re passing through the underground concourse that connects the two towers, one of the buildings collapses, trapping both of them underneath the wreckage. What follows is an account of their dramatic 24 hour-long ordeal, shifting between their courageous endurance against the odds and their wives’ (Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal) emotionally exhausting experience of having to watch the rescue efforts unfold on television.

What to Expect: Since the moment it was announced that notorious director Oliver Stone was in charge of the project there has been wide speculation about the film’s thematic content. Known for his fascination with conspiracy theories, his movies have frequently dealt with divisive issues in intricate and intellectual ways. His political opinions, freely expressed in films like Born on the Fourth of July, Salvador, and especially the marvelously labyrinthine JFK, have often been labeled as extremist left wing, primarily by his right wing opponents. However, Stone’s influence as a filmmaker has really faded in the past ten years. Following his paranoid and unflinchingly violent Natural Born Killers he made the controversial Nixon, which earned several Oscar nominations, but was basically Stone’s last major hurrah. In 1999, his revealing look at the world of professional football in Any Given Sunday was a highly engaging attempt, but ultimately lacked the bold and uncompromising approach of his previous works. After a long, six-year hiatus that felt about twice as long, Stone returned with last winter’s terribly miscalculated and ambitiously dull flop, Alexander. It became more evident than ever that Stone lost the magic touch that made him one of the most eminent directors of the early ‘90s. So when he announced his plans to undertake the delicate subject of the World Trade Center attacks in his next movie, naturally there were some concerns that the material could be handled inappropriately or irresponsibly. Yet Stone reassures that his bare bones story of survival will be carried out with sensitivity and will be void of any unnecessary political or controversial undertones. Indeed, the script appears to handle the subject matter with vigilant subtlety, almost avoiding references to 9/11. Reportedly, the twin towers are never even shown in the film and all attacks or scenes of destruction are implied off-screen rather than shown explicitly. By focusing on his one story of individual survival, Stone is clearly making a personal film and staying clear of potentially offensive situations. By casting Nicolas Cage, one of the world’s biggest stars, in the lead role, he is virtually guaranteed a likeable and identifiable everyman as the main character. Cage’s typically passionate persona should fit perfectly in the intense drama, and his recognition should provide a cushion of optimism for the audience during the most pulse-pounding moments.

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Is the American public ready for feature films that discuss the events of 9/11? Hollywood producers appear to think that after almost five years, it is. World Trade Center is scheduled to be the second major September 11th themed release of the year after Paul Greengrass’s Flight 93 comes out in April. Wisely, both films will confront the sensitive subject on a relatively small scale, focusing on an intimate portrayal of one personal story rather than an overblown recreation of the entire harrowing event. It appears that World Trade Center will be easier emotionally on the audiences than Flight 93, which is somewhat surprising considering Stone’s reputation. I think he may have some of the edge that helped him create remarkably powerful pictures in the past and may be becoming more conventional in his older age. The story in World Trade Center certainly has more mass appeal than Flight 93, but by sidestepping some of the issues, Stone could end up with a watered-down version of what requires more authority. Flight 93 is probably taking a riskier approach by focusing on a gloomier account with a more heartbreaking resolution, and as a result, may prove to be the more memorable of the two.

In Conclusion: The events of 9/11 have made such an impact on American life and politics that it is impossible to imagine these first two features as anything less than restrained and respectful. New York City apparently set strict guidelines as to how this film could be shot. I believe that enough time has passed where a lot of us can look back at the events, but there is still a limit to how much we are willing to endure. World Trade Center will attempt to honor the heroes without concentrating on all of the encompassing terror of the fateful day. I think it is going to take a very safe approach toward the material, hopefully without becoming excessively undemanding, as that could easily take away from the film’s impact. However, it should mark a successful project for Oliver Stone, who has shown tremendous care in the past with uncomfortable material like the Vietnam War in Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. If audiences are going to rally around a patriotic 9/11 themed film, than this small scale heroic story will probably be the one.

Similar Titles: Ladder 49, Black Hawk Down, Platoon
August 9th, 2006 (wide)
December 12th, 2006 (DVD)

Paramount Pictures

Oliver Stone

Nicolas Cage, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Brad William Henke, Jay Hernandez, Nicky Katt

Total: 82 vote(s).



Rated PG-13 for intense and emotional content, some disturbing images and language.

125 min






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