Directed by: Oliver Stone
Premise: After the attack on the World Trade Center and the collapse of the towers, two Port Authority police officers (Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena) are trapped in the rubble.
What Works: Oliver Stone and his crew have created a wonderful tribute piece to the casualties, survivors, and first responders involved in the September 11th attack. The film demonstrates deep respect for its subject but also for the audience. It does not exploit the tragedy for cheap tears or to make a political statement. Surprisingly, World Trade Center manages to avoid making the story about partisanship and instead uses the story to provide a very moving meditation on heroism and hope. On a narrative level, World Trade Center is also admirable in its accomplishments. The film faces a major problem: its two lead characters spend the majority of the film pinned under rubble. The film uses lighting and camerawork and smart editing choices to give the film a narrative buildup that works extremely well.
What Doesn’t: The denouement of World Trade Center feels a bit truncated. It provides the audience with the necessary information but it does not allow for enough of an emotional decompression.
Bottom Line: World Trade Center is a decidedly different Oliver Stone film. It’s hopeful rather than cynical and allows for the best of humanity to show through rather than the worst. This is not to disparage Stone’s other films (far from it), but to say that this one is unique. World Trade Center is easily one of the best films so far this summer and it stands with United 93 as one of two very well done studio pictures about the events of September 11th.
Episode: #106 (August 13, 2006)