On September, 11th 2001, after the terrorist attack to the World Trade Center, the building collapses over the rescue team from the Port Authority Police Department. Will Jimeno and his sergeant John McLoughlin are found alive trapped under the wreckage while the rescue teams fight to save them.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I was surprised by the intimacy of this film about the September 11th terrorist attacks. It takes a tragedy that shook the world and chooses to focus on just a few characters. There are a few scenes that place the event in the larger global context, but most of the disaster is viewed from limited, first person viewpoints. This heightens the viewer's fear and anxiety and makes for an effective experience.
The movie follows two port authority cops as they try to evacuate the World Trade Center. John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) is the veteran cop who has became an authority on the WTC after the '93 attack and helped create evacuation strategies. (This situation, however, catches him off guard. No one anticipated a disaster originating on the upper levels of the towers.) William Jimeno (Michael Pena) is the rookie cop who volunteers to jump into the fray when many of his fellow cops hesitate.
The movie also tells the story of the cops' wives who anxiously wait for word on their husbands. The consistently excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal does an excellent job as the pregnant wife of rookie Jimeno. If the Fall doesn't produce many best actress contenders, Gyllenhaal could net a nomination. Mario Bello also turns in a fine performance as Mrs. McLoughlin struggling to keep her family calm and trying not to believe the worst.
The movie, though, is not a triumph as I was hoping. Our two main characters spend much of the movie inert and these scenes, unfortunately, become a little tedious. Maybe it's because I knew of the ultimate outcome of the story--it's based on actual accounts--that these moments became tiresome for me. After the harrowing arrival at the disaster site and the horrifying, but amazingly filmed destruction of the towers, the cops' experience slowly becomes less compelling.
Much has been made about the fact that Oliver Stone has made a largely apolitical film. But pay attention to the character of Marine Dave Karnes. This guy's a wild card and seems, at points, to be clashing with the film's ultimately uplifting message.
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