Review: World Trade Center

world trade center oliver stone
World Trade Center: Not Your Average
Politically-Charged Oliver Stone Rant

In contrast to the previously released film United 93, which took the hijackers’ perspective inside one of three planes that went down on September 11, 2001, Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center tells the story of New York City Port Authority officers, Chief John McLoughlin (played by the always angsty Nic Cage) and rookie Will Jimeno (the sublime Michael Pena), who find themselves trapped beneath the rubble between the disintegrated Towers. Only two of twenty survivors found amongst the ruins, Cage and Pena act for most of the film on their backs, covered in chalky concrete and screaming to be heard.

The force of the film is the structural collapse of the buildings, viewed from within, which must have been incredible to capture and to pull off. The effect is extremely claustrophobic as a theater-going experience, akin to an EST retreat. Alert: NO ONE who was in New York on 9-11 or lost someone in the attacks should make themselves go through all that again. Stone is not known for being an emotionally sensitive creature, and his agenda usually is to cram a slanted ideology down his audience’s throat. He’s your go-to man for drug-addled epics (Natural Born Killers), political conspiracies (The People Vs. Larry Flynt, JFK), and testosterone-driven power struggles (Platoon, Wall Street) so vile even a professional athlete couldn’t choke them down. As trite as that’s become, it is sorely lacking in WTC, which attempts to balance the agonizing visuals of men clinging to life by presenting their families’ reactions as they watch the coverage on television. The typically riveting Maria Bello does little with her role except give an icy blue stare of regret, while Maggie Gyllenhaal (as Jimeno’s pregnant wife) can only be said to NOT play Maggie Gyllenhaal this time, as per her often vain attempts to become the gesturally-awkward Meg Ryan of her generation.

Stone can’t stop himself from adding those signature touches. A subplot involving a fanatical Christian marine on a pilgrimage to drag bodies out of the chaos and a psychedelic Jesus blinking intermittently across the screen are obvious nods to the 60s-flashback Stone-d experience. B-actors Stephen Dorff and Frank Whaley show up in act three for random cameos, which only adds to the uncomfortable feelings of a film that injects pseudo-comedy into what would largely be deemed an American disaster flick. Hopefully someone persuaded the ego-driven director that, like casting Angelina Jolie as Colin Farrell’s mother in Alexander, not everything surreal is interesting or even intrinsic.

Ultimately, World Trade Center, like the tripped-out desert scenes in The Doors, will only amplify any residual terrorism fears lying dormant in your soul. If you’re still as masochistic as you were five years ago — watching looped footage of planes hitting buildings, towers tumbling, people jumping, and widows weeping — you may want to endure this over-long Clockwork Orange-esque movie. It will not help us defeat the enemy (whoever they are). It will not make you more patriotic. It won’t even make you cry. If anything, you’ll walk out underwhelmed, wishing you’d stayed at home watching the current crisis in Lebanon and Israel play itself out under Anderson Cooper’s determined drawl.

World Trade Center opens August 9th.

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Posted by regan on August 01st 2006 | Home Page | 4 Comments Subscribe to this site's feed

4 Responses

  1. Jeff Keezel Says:

    Is this a review of the movie or a discussion of your dislike of Oliver Stone? Can we concentrate on the work before us? Why the heck does the movie have to help us defeat the enemy?

    BTW – I don’t know about the psychedelic Jesus, but the Marine was a real person who actually did all the stuff portrayed in the movie. Try to get your facts straight before writing your next review.

    I’m going to have to go with this comment from the World Trade Center page at MySpace:

    thys movie l0oks pimp. ima definitely see it!!

    There you go…thekeez

  2. regan Says:

    dear “thekeez”,

    this is a movie review that encompasses a critical eye toward the work of director oliver stone. i find it impossible to separate my subjective experience as an audience member from my subjective experience as a free-thinking individual. thankfully, that is one of the purposes of rhetoric!

    as to your concern for fact-checking, i believe the psychedelic jesus was a pastiche of the stone style, not an actual religious hallucination. i don’t dispute the facts on which WTC is based; i’m simply not a fan of the overall product. it is heavy-handed yet lacks emotional depth.

    thanks for reading!

  3. mr skin Says:

    Colling Farrell is one of the new spokespersons for the special olympics? That’s kinda strange. He’s getting over an addiction to pain killers and has a sex tape out. That’s pretty special if you ask me!

  4. DamionKutaeff Says:

    Hello everybody, my name is Damion, and I’m glad to join your conmunity,
    and wish to assit as far as possible.

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