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World Trade Center (DVD)

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

There are films you love, and then there are films you live. Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Centre” is a film that most of us will endure – if only because it is tackling such a prickly subject- not enjoy. It is, after all, a recreation of history that simply wants to remind and remember, not a crowd-pleasing blockbuster film.


Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Jay Hernandez, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Dorff, Frank Whaley

There are films you love, and then there are films you live. Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Centre” is a film that most of us will endure – if only because it is tackling such a prickly subject- not enjoy. It is, after all, a recreation of history that simply wants to remind and remember, not a crowd-pleasing blockbuster film.

Or is it?

There lies the underlying problem with the second major film based on that tragic eventful day in history – the first, “United 93” centred on the passengers of the doomed plane that missed its target because of the brave union of the passengers – does it play as real as it should?

Big-time Box Office Drawcard and ingredient for instant financing, Nicolas Cage joins Michael Pena to play real-life heroes, John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, two Port Authority Police Officers who are trapped in the rubble of the world trade centre towers when they come crashing down. As they attempt to keep each other ‘awake’ – they know that if they go to sleep, that could be it for them – their respective families pray and panic for their safe-return.

Remember how you felt when the “Blair Witch Project” marketing campaign first hit a few years back? Your initial reaction to that – Was it real? Not real? And remember what it took to take you out of the moment? While we know the events in “World Trade Centre” really happened, there’s quite a few times in the film that we’re reminded that, in this case, we are only watching a movie.

Sure, a lot of it plays real – and we know this happened – but a lot of it, well, you can’t help but be sucked out of the moment and reminded that you’re watching $20-million-a-movie stars (Nicolas Cage, though good, is simply too recognizable an actor to be able to separate the man from the character), the Paramount backlot, and awaiting the next button to be pressed so we can feel the Goosebumps work their way down the spine, arms and legs.

Surprisingly for Stone, there’s also a fair amount of fluff in this – the slow-mo walk, the cheesy lines (reminiscent of a Jerry Bruckheimer film – for a few moments there, especially with Nicolas Cage doing the delivering, I thought I was watching “The Rock”), the flashback sequences and flashes of a luminous Jesus Christ, entering the frame,

And speaking of the usually controversial and opinionated Stone, he’s totally excised all ‘opinion’ and ‘detail’ from the film – he’s usually so detailed that a studio has to beg him to get it down to 3 hours- resulting in something that doesn’t feel as much like a Stone film, than it does a strong cable movie directed by a seasoned, but unexceptional, director. At the same time, he could just be being loyal – or merely smiling and nodding for fear or extradition.

On the other hand, if a film can give you that deep lump in the throat, near draw you to tears at certain times, and remind you both just how terrible that day was and also, how wonderful it was that everyone united to help each other, it ain’t such a bad thing (And that is exactly what I should be pointing out – this isn’t a bad film, not at all. It’s quite good, probably just not as super as it needed to be so that we could possibly find the will to forgive Hollywood for making a film about something they said they never would. )

It is probably the performances that make the movie, since Stone isn’t doing anything special here. Cage is good – though sometimes distracting, but not as much as he could’ve been – but the supporting cast are possibly even better. Michael Pena is a knockout, Jay Hernandez has a short but memorable few moments, Stephen Dorff is sensational in his few scenes, and as the distraught wives in waiting, Mario Bello (with very obvious blue contacts) and Maggie Gyllenhall are both apt and at times, rather superb, especially the latter, who takes on some of the most emotional scenes of her career here.

“World Trade Centre” is a pretty respectful film, and really does salute the people that sacrificed their lives to save others – especially the cops and firemen – so as much as it is an unnecessary film, its, for better or worse, so eager to please, that you can near overlook the self-interests of cabbage-hungry studio execs.

You’ll be better served by the documentaries, but many will find this film easier to sit through.

The DVD includes dual commentaries (not bad) plus some deleted and extended scenes.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

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