World Trade Center

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/09/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 129 mins

Well-made and frequently harrowing, but the powerful sequences and strong performances are counter-balanced by an overdose of flag-waving sentimentality and some sub-par dialogue.

What's it all about?
Perhaps Oliver Stone's least controversial movie to date, World Trade Center is based on the true story of John McCoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena), two Port Authority cops who got trapped in the rubble when the first tower collapsed on 9/11. Meanwhile their wives (Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal respectively) and families anxiously await news of what has happened to them.

In all the chaos, it's a miracle that McCoughlin and Jimeno were found at all, but the film credits their discovery to a slightly unhinged ex-Marine (Michael Shannon), who decides that God wants him to put on his old Marine uniform and go looking for survivors in the rubble.

The Good
The opening of the film is extremely good, with extraordinary attention to detail. Similarly, the collapse of the towers (experienced from the inside) is absolutely terrifying and Stone includes several other harrowing sequences (fireballs; bullets exploding; the collapse of the second tower) to distract from the fact that neither of his lead actors can move for 80 percent of the movie.

Cage strips away his movie star persona and plays John as an emotionally distant, somewhat difficult man, while Michael Pena (from Crash) is superb as the warm-hearted, optimistic Jimeno. Bello and Gyllenhaal are both excellent, and there's strong support from both Stephen Dorff and Frank Whalley (as members of the rescue team).

The Bad
What lets World Trade Center down is an overdose of flag-waving sentimentality towards the end, combined with some dodgy religious imagery, some dismal dialogue and a vomit-inducing voiceover. It's also a shame that the film couldn't have included more of Dorff and Whalley's characters, both of whom play a vital part.

Worth seeing?
Well made and well acted but it doesn't say anything that a documentary wouldn't have said better.

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Content updated: 26/05/2019 20:27

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