If you had to pick a director to make the first major, big-budget, star-studded Hollywood movie about the September 11 terrorist attacks—and an inspirational movie, at that, about the heroism displayed by ordinary Americans that day—your first choice probably wouldn't be Oliver Stone. From JFK to Natural Born Killers, his politically-charged and occasionally conspiracy-minded films are better known for picking at the nation's wounds, rather than healing them. And yet, somehow, Stone has pulled it off with World Trade Center, which tells the story of two men who were rescued from the rubble of the twin towers. Rather than impose his vision on the story, Stone allows himself to become the conduit through which their story is told.
The film begins by depicting the sheer ordinariness of that morning, though a hint of Craig Armstrong's ominous score, and the way the camera keeps turning towards those towers on the horizon, lets us know the day won't stay that way. The characters, meanwhile, remain innocent of what is to come. Sgt. John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) wakes up early and silently checks in on his sleeping children before going to work at the Port Authority Police Department. Fellow officer Will Jimeno (Michael Peña) also drives into Manhattan, and kids around with his colleagues in the locker room. The police are told to be on the lookout for a runaway girl, and Jimeno tells a homeless man not to loiter on public property. It's all very routine.
And then the first World Trade tower is struck. Stone, to his credit, does not go for the obvious money shots here; he does not mimic the news footage that we have all seen by recreating it with the latest developments in special effects. Instead, he depicts ...1
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World Trade Center
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