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World Trade Center More at IMDbPro »

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448 out of 772 people found the following review useful:

A classless play on emotions

Author: hugodinwitty from United States
12 August 2006

I know that many people who don't like this movie say so just because they thought it was made at an inappropriate time. Personally, I hated this movie on its own merit as poor film-making. It seems that Oliver Stone just decided he wanted to make a movie, any movie, about 9/11, and didn't care about the content of the movie. The end result was a movie of such pitiful quality that one could go though the script and replace the term "police officer" with "miner" and "World Trade Center" with "a coal mine" and the entire script would work perfectly as a cave-in disaster movie. It's that generic. Stone tries to carry the movie just by showing how sad the families were and how scared the policemen were, meanwhile allowing the audience no interesting plot points to hold on to, nor any significance to the tragedy. In the end, I have to conclude that Oliver Stone just wanted to get some cheap emotional reactions from the crowd, because at one point the movie says that it is about the potential for good in humanity and how strong we can be in the face of adversity. Stone quickly forgets this, because only about 15% of the movie even shows people coming together to help one another. The other 85% of the movie is spent watching the families argue or seeing flashbacks to their happy memories, which is a good way to get audience reaction but hardly lends any significance or depth to the plot. I don't in any way want to belittle the pain that these families had to endure, which is why I am disappointed that that pain was exploited to make a bad movie. September 11 was the most important and tragic event in my lifetime, and I think it deserves more respect than to be made into a generic, poorly-written disaster movie less than five years after it happened.

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266 out of 409 people found the following review useful:

Good intentions and some powerful moments but overall a disappointment

Author: imaginarytruths from United States
10 August 2006

I honestly didn't think it was very good at all, though I respect the intentions of the filmmakers. Whatever one wants to say about Oliver Stone, he showed a commitment to faithfully telling the story of these two Port Authority cops trapped in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and their worried wives.

I liked a lot of the scenes in the beginning, the little mundane details like when Michael Pena's character is going about his everyday street beat. But the scenes at the WTC itself are really awkward, especially the cross-cutting between real footage and the actors. They just don't match, neither the film stocks nor the actors' reactions. A couple of moments with Pena standing there on the concourse were effective in creating a sense of horrific surrealism, and the moments right before the collapse were sudden and chilling...but overall it was not as powerful as I was expecting. For a film called World Trade Center, I guess I was expecting a little more context and not something focused so narrowly on these two Port Authority cops and an ex-Marine from Connecticut (as the only person outside these two cops' families whose story is told in the film, the focus on him reeks of jingoism in a GI Joe/Rambo vein).

I know it's a little unfair to compare this to United 93, but I need to in order to illustrate the point. U93 told a specific story (the experience of the passengers on the plane) and placed it within a context (what was happening with air traffic control and the military). The lessons that are demonstrated in the actions of the passengers are enhanced by contrasting them with the helplessness of the "professionals" responsible for their safety. It's telling a dramatically powerful story, conveying a theme , AND providing a larger historical context of what happened that day. Oliver Stone, by comparison, has failed to effectively tie the experiences of these two trapped cops with the larger events of the day, and his film suffers as a result. And in the end the film largely shortchanges the stories of the 2749 families who didn't get good news that day.

OK, so the film focuses on a narrow story of these two trapped cops and their families (and the gung ho marine, but he has limited screen time). Was their story well told? The scenes amidst the wreckage were compelling, but the back-and-forth with their wives became annoyingly schmaltzy. Yes, Maggie Gyllenhaal gave a strong performance as the pregnant wife and a lot of the moments with her family (esp the brief scene with the Colombian mother-in-law praying) were emotionally poignant, but so much of the family stuff was lame melodrama. And to be honest, even Maggie's performance was a little generic. I understand that these characters are all closely based on real life, but it still felt very Lifetime movie of the week. As for Maria Bello in the role of the other wife, I loved her in A History of Violence, but she was bland in this. The kid actors playing her children were mostly awful, and the film dragged whenever their story was on the screen. The resolution is mostly handled well, I really like what Oliver Stone is trying to convey about these small gestures of heroic goodness in the face of such desolation. But the power of these scenes is undermined by his tendency to pour on the sappiness while largely ignoring the greater horror of the day. It feels like a soap opera set against the greatest tragedy of our age, and that just doesn't work for me.

In short...not intense enough, not enough context, too much melodrama, not enough of a sense of reverence for what happened, highly impressive job of recreating the debris field, a charismatic performance from Maggie, overall a mediocre film.

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256 out of 439 people found the following review useful:

A life-affirming movie about courage

Author: Jason M. Rothman ( from Philadelphia, PA
26 July 2006

It's a little known story from a day we know all too well. "World Trade Center" tells the gripping true story of two of the last men pulled out of the rubble of Ground Zero alive.

Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena play Port Authority Police officers. In the film's heart- pounding opening minutes, we watch the attack unfold through the eyes of these first responders. As the routine morning becomes anything but routine, the officers glimpse news reports (we are thankfully spared any images of the plane striking the towers) and get bits of information from cellphone calls to family members as they race downtown. But what's most striking is how little the men know about what's really happening. As the officers prepare to the climb the North Tower, they are unaware the South Tower has even been hit. Communications gear is failing, and there is confusion all around.

Through impeccably detailed sets and flawless special effects, director Oliver Stone and his film-making team recreate these hectic moments in all-too-realistic detail. You're right there, on the street, looking up and watching the chaos unfold in 35mm and THX surround sound. If you didn't know any better, you'd think Stone had a crew shooting in Lower Manhattan that day. You have to struggle to remind yourself everything you're seeing was recreated on a sound stage on inside a computer.

Screenwriter Andrea Berloff further enhances the realism with believable dialog. She not only effectively captures the "cop talk" (half the time, there's so much lingo being bantered back and forth, you don't understand what the heck the characters are saying -- as it should be), she also delivers a truth and honesty to the conversations and interactions. The words never feel contrived.

The quality cast does the script justice. It's remarkable how well Cage, a major movie star, disappears behind the mustache and hunched shoulders of Sgt. John McLoughlin. Pena (last seen as the locksmith in "Crash") is instantly likable as Ofc. Jimeno. Their performances are even more noteworthy considering they spend the majority of the movie flat on their backs. They are also well supported by Maria Bello and Magie Gyllenhaal as their respective wives, who spend much of the film enduring an agonizing wait to learn the fate of their husbands.

Stone's storytelling is also more methodical and straightforward than it's been in recent years. He mercifully ditches the frenetic editing style he's employed in films like Natural Born Killers and Any Given Sunday.

***Not Political***

When one hears that Oliver Stone, director of such politically charged films as JFK and Born on the Fourth Of July, is making a movie about 9/11, your first tendency is to say, "uh oh." But this may be the least political movie Stone has ever made, one both red states and blue states can agree on. It's not about the roots of terror, or who's to blame for what. It's not about villains. It's about heroes. Though set during one of America's darkest hours, it tells a life-affirming story of courage, love and the strength people can summon inside. The movie reminds us how we all felt that day, how we all came together. Some say it is too soon for a movie like this. But as our nation sits so sharply divided, it's not a minute too soon to remember the unity of purpose we all had on 9/11 and ponder whether we can ever get it back.

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119 out of 195 people found the following review useful:

National tragedy as formula storytelling

Author: anhedonia from Planet Earth
2 September 2006

Something surprising happened while watching Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" - I realized how much more I appreciated Paul Greengrass' "United 93." Greengrass' film was lean, stripped of any backstory for any of the characters. Very simply, it told what happened that horrible day on the plane - though he used some license - and didn't wallow in needless sentimentality.

Stone, on the other hand and rather surprisingly, seems to have gone out of his way to make something that would be so palatable and inoffensive that it would turn out rather bland, above anything else.

The 45 minutes of "World Trade Center" are terrific. After offering us quick glimpses into the lives of Port Authority cops John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena), Andrea Berloff's script gets us right into the attacks on the Twin Towers.

The crumbling of the towers, which still is incredibly difficult to watch, let alone fathom, is handled with taste, but also is awfully gripping. We get a real sense of the terror and panic and then Stone gets the claustrophobic atmosphere right. With close-ups of Pena and Cage amidst the ruins, he gets us so close, we can almost taste the rubble and concrete dust.

But that's the last time we really see or feel any sense of genuine, gripping storytelling in this film. I realize criticizing a film about 9/11, especially one that displays its American stars and stripes so blatantly, is tantamount to treason these days. After all, as this administration and its minions love to point out, if you disagree with them, you're not only unpatriotic, but also an appeaser of the villains. It's poppycock, of course. Dissent is undoubtedly American, but these chaps so love draping themselves in the flag that jingoism overwhelms all reason. Why bother with rational thought when you can scare people?

What struck me while watching the film is realizing how much goodwill was channeled toward the United States after the attacks and what's ultimately sad is how this president took all that goodwill and squandered it by launching an utterly pointless war in Iraq. We could have done so much good in the world, instead of now being one of the most hated nations in the world. And Bush has now turned 9/11 into a political slogan for political (and personal) gain.

The problem with Stone's film isn't so much the story, but how Berloff chose to tell it. According to Berloff, cops, rescue workers, even family members tend to enjoy speaking in exposition. There are moments that surely someone of Stone's calibre should have realized needed to be rewritten because the dialogue seems mediocre at best.

Where the film suffers is when the story cuts between the two trapped men and their families, especially their wives. Maria Bello as Donna McLoughlin and the always wonderful Maggie Gyllenhaal as Allison Jimeno never get much to do with their sorely underwritten roles. It's a true testament to Gyllenhaal's talent that she turns a rather sour role into a passionate, moving performance. Poor Bello, on the other hand, isn't that fortunate. She's relegated to spending more time than she should weeping.

The trouble with these scenes is not that Berloff tries to wring some emotion out of them, but that they come off as unabashedly sentimental. And the emotions are entirely unearned.

Pena proves, just as he did in "Crash" (2005), that he's able to be something special on screen. His character is far more engaging than Cage's; Pena's emotions come off without any artifice.

I can't help but feel that "World Trade Center" could have been the gut-wrenching experience Stone intended it to be had he and Berloff approached the story much in the way Greengrass did "United 93." Stone's movie is far from lean. It's padded with needless sentimentality and moments that just try so hard to earn some emotion, any emotion, that they come off as utterly false. And that's unfair to the people whose story is being chronicled here.

Watching Cage and Pena trapped should be gripping stuff. But even their dialogue is reduced to exposition. And when Berloff finally leaves the two men and their families, we get Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon), a man so moved by what he saw that he came down to the Twin Towers and proved to be McLoughlin and Jimeno's miracle. We all know Karnes is a real person, but I very much doubt that he speaks in bumper stickers. But that's exactly what Berloff has him do.

The first 45 minutes of the movie showed what Stone truly is capable of doing. The rest is rather tepid. And unbelievably forced. Who knew that Oliver Stone, of all people, would resort to formulaic storytelling. Perhaps he's been so stung by conspiracy accusations and was so keen on appeasing his critics and forgetting the execrable "Alexander" (2004) that he opted to make the kind of movie Ron Howard would make. That's not a compliment.

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71 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

Another Pearl Harbour

Author: morc-4 from Denmark
9 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I knew this was going to be utter hail America bull even before watching it. We have a club of 10 people, who regularly attend the theaters and watch random movies. Believe me, if I had a choice, I would have never had any interest in watching this. But anyway, as I predicted, well as we all predicted, actually, we were bored through the whole film. Except for those moments where we along with the rest of the theater were laughing at especially the marine and the other cheesy moments in this disaster of a film. When it was finally over, people just stood outside laughing at how bad the film was and talking about this marine, who wanted to dig through tons of rubble with his super fantastic American marine knife!! "Don't worry, I won't leave you! I'm a marine!" Yes! He actually says that! And then we are told, that he goes to Iraq for 2 years to get revenge. I ask then, was he one of those enraged psychos who raped Iraqi women and murdered their families down there then ? And what has Iraq to do with WTC ? What a joke.

What an insult to the people who died or had friends or family members who died at this terrible tragedy. I will never see a Nicholas Cage film again nor an Olive Stone one. What maniac thought up the lines of that marine ? I'm baffled.


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54 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

Boring movie

Author: stiedvar82 from Norway
1 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

if you regard the fact that the tittle give the movie away, it is still pretty predictable from the start.. But i mean almost two hours of to police officers lying under wtc rubble.. and nothing else just a view of how their families are coping.. It's so's so like the pearl harbour movie, so subjective and predictable. "America lives yey for us.. boo to the bad guys" but what about the other people who really died, what about the REAL family tragedies. All the widows, and single parents left alone after the fall of the towers, and all the children who has lost one or two parents? well anyway, another movie and another waste of time

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267 out of 513 people found the following review useful:

Shadows the truth of the day.

Author: jhf3488 from United States
15 August 2006

Before you brush this review off as someone that is just looking to cause problems or badmouth a movie let me give you my background. I live in NJ less than 5 minutes from the city. My family is heavily in twined in the Port Authority of NY/NJ. My grandfather is a retired Lieutenant and my uncle has been a PAPD officer for 12 years and I have both friends and family that worked in the world trade center in the PA executive offices.

The movie itself concentrates on two PAPD officers, Will and John. It follows their ordeal up to the point of rescue. OK. Seems good. But what about the 2700+ people that were lost on that terrible day. The writers spent too much time basing the movie on two men and their "story of triumph" that the true events of the day were left in the shadows.

There were times during the movie that I almost forgot what I was watching because it seemed like these were the only two men (along with their families) affected by the tragedy. The ordeal seemed no different than that experienced by the miners that were rescued in pennsylvania several years back. There was no rescue of other people even mentioned until the ending credits, at which time they finally acknowledged that people were actually lost.

The movie gives the impression that September 11th and the days following was an uplifting experience because two men were found alive. It fails to document all that was lost and never recovered. If a movie must be made about such a tragedy then the movie should show it like it is. There should be no dramatic rescue with uplifting music. The day was terrible, the events were terrible, and the story was terrible. Lets not make the worst day in our country's history into an uplifting "happy ending" version of titanic.

Throughout the movie there were 3 mentions of lost people other than the main characters. The first of an unnamed elevator operator, the second was a quick clip of "missing person" posters, and the final was the ending credits that gave the true numbers. Those three scenes are what September 11th was. It was not a love story. It was not a triumph. And more than anything it was not material for a Hollywood movie.

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95 out of 170 people found the following review useful:

This was awful

Author: Kura Arastar from United States
13 August 2006

This is the first movie I've ever got up during the showing at a theatre and walked out. Yeah I know some people are going to panic and whine that I'm a horrible person for not liking the World Trade Center movie, but this was just annoying. The previews show a bright, outdoors thing with lots of police and firefighters and such, when in reality most of the film is just two guys trapped in the dark, in the rubble, talking in strained voices about their family, while their family acts upset at home. Don't get me wrong, I respect the event, but the importance of a historical event doesn't mean everyone should go see a poorly done movie about it. So in conclusion, the film is very repetitive, constant poor lighting and typically unchanging scenery make it unpleasant to watch for a long time, and it was very hard to connect with the characters.

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169 out of 318 people found the following review useful:

Total and big disappointment! Non-American viewers, beware!

Author: moni from Sofia, Bulgaria
25 November 2006

First, I vote 1 for this dreadful piece of celluloid just because IMDb hadn't provided negative votes yet. Absolutely big disappointment coming from one of the finest directors of all time - Oliver Stone. Having in mind that he directed such masterpieces as JFK and Naturally born killers, I have no excuse for him making such blatant propaganda movie except for the paycheck. Every single cliché you name it, you have it here. Patriotism is flowing from every possible hole, the opposite of smart Bush showing like a cockroaches from every frame. Yes, for sure, Americans do deserve to have such idiotic film made for such tragic event, so let them have it. A apropos, when do we have movie about more than half million innocent civilians killed in Iraq by Americans? For all those women and children cold-heartedly slaughtered and maimed by American soldiers and not even statistically put as collateral damages? A movie about how the US invasion of Iraq provoked and increased the uniting of the world terrorism in that poor country? Where is THAT movie, mister Stone?

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68 out of 117 people found the following review useful:

Paramount wasted their money - don't waste yours

Author: AwwDannyBhoy from UK
9 October 2006

The remarkable thing about the film 'Apollo 13' is that although you know how the story ends, the film-makers still achieve story telling of the highest order. Not so, this shameless piece of Yankee propaganda.

It is arrant nonsense to say that this is not a political film - there would be NO film without the politics, yet Stone affects to ignore that this awful event prompted one of the most evil misuses of military-industrial power in modern history. More innocent Afghanis were slaughtered by an act of blind vengeance than the total number of innocent victims of September 11th.

As another person commented on this site, you'd think that the two NY cops buried in this film were the only victims... This film represents the low point of an otherwise interesting and often laudable career as a film maker.

And apart from all the above, even if you take issue with the politics I refer to, I defy you say that this is not the most boring two hours you've ever endured in a cinema.

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