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Return to 2006 Films

Index of 2006

An Inconvenient Truth
Big Bad Swim
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The Departed
The DaVinci Code
Eron: The Smartest
Guys in the Room

Good Night and
Good Luck

Half Nelson
History of Violence
Hotel Rwanda
Little Miss Sunshine
Journey from the Fall
March of the Penguins
Million Dollar Baby
Prairie Home Companion
Star Wars III:
Revenge of the Sith

Thank You for Smoking
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Sea Inside
United 93
War of the Worlds
Walk the Line
World Trade Center

World Trade Center

A review by Tom Condon, OP

Film Synopsis: This docudrama tells the story of Port Authority policemen John McLoughlin (Nic Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena), who were trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, after they went in to help people escape.

World Trade Center is director Oliver Stone’s much-anticipated film about the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. There has been much speculation surrounding the choice of this outspoken director to film this sensitive story. Would the results be as controversial and polarizing as JFK?Stone’s approach is to focus on two Port Authority Policemen (Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena), among the first to arrive at the World Trade Center after the first plane crash. The two are buried under debris from the collapse of the towers. The film chronicles their terrifying ordeal, buried under rubble without food, water, or medical attention as day turns into night. We also see the anguish of their families, who wait for any sign of hope as precious moments pass by.

Technically the film is superb. The visual details greatly enhance the sense of chaos: explosions in the dark, light glimpsed through the suffocating smoke, dust and dirt caked on faces, tangled steel and concrete everywhere. Likewise sound effects also enhance this hellish location: the sounds of explosions, falling debris, creaking steel, dripping water. These intense images are interwoven with scenes of the families at home, anxiously doing those activities we do when we are in crisis: comforting each other, snapping out of frustration, watching the news.

As compelling as the drama is, I left the theater with mixed feelings. In focusing so closely on these two men and their families, to the exclusion of so many other stories, the scope of the tragedy is lost. This is especially true because (spoiler alert!) both men live, and are reunited with their families. At the conclusion of the film, we are reminded that the attack brought out both the best and the worst in all of us. In World Trade Center Stone has chosen to focus on the best responses to the tragedy: the many acts of heroism, sacrifice, and generosity. Certainly these acts deserve attention and praise. The uplifting stories of these two brave men and their families deserve telling. But I left wondering about the thousands of others who did not survive.

In conclusion, World Trade Center is indeed a well crafted, engrossing film about courage and the human spirit. Yet it failed to capture the scope of that day that changed the lives of us all. Maybe that’s beyond the scope of any single film. I still think that the low budget, somber, realistic United 93, released this spring does a better job of capturing the impact of that day in the lives of ordinary, heroic people. No doubt, there will be many other films on this subject in the future, each telling another aspect of the story.

Tom Condon, OP

The USCCB classification
A-II -- adults and adolescents.

The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned.

Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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