Combustible Celluloid
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With: Starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jay Hernandez, Armando Riesco, Donna Murphy, Patti D'Arbanville, Brad William Henke, Lucia Brawley, Jon Bernthal, Wass Stevens, William Mapother, Michael Shannon, Frank Whaley
Written by: Andrea Berloff
Directed by: Oliver Stone
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense and emotional content, some disturbing images and language
Running Time: 125
Date: 08/09/2006

World Trade Center (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Towering Achievement

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When Oliver Stone announced that he would be releasing a movie about the September 11, 2001 attacks, most people probably imagined one of two things: a crackpot conspiracy theory movie or a complete disaster like his previous film Alexander (2004). But World Trade Center emerges, surprisingly, as a highly effective, old-fashioned, bigger-than-life American melodrama, full of heartbreak and heroism, tragedy and triumph. It leaves one with a sense of hope, that mankind is capable -- when challenged -- of coming together and accomplishing great things. Nicolas Cage portrays John McLoughlin, a real-life New York Port Authority cop trapped in the rubble of the collapsed buildings. For much of the movie, Cage is almost completely immobilized, using only his face and voice for his grand-slam performance. Michael Pena (Million Dollar Baby, Crash) plays his real-life colleague Will Jimeno, trapped nearby. Stone does an exceptional job with the sense of space in these scenes. He indicates exactly how dark, how far underground and how dusty their concrete cocoon really is, while also establishing the space between the men (they couldn't see, and could only hear, each other). In the wraparound sequences, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello flesh out the "waiting wives," adding touching bits of humanity to otherwise one-note roles. Stone drops the ball in a few places by -- what else -- going over the top, but, though disaster movies aren't normally my favorite, I would heartily recommend this to anyone who's ready to see it. Frank Whaley has a small, but powerfully effective role as a paramedic who helps out at Ground Zero, and Andrea Berloff wrote the screenplay.

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