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Sunday, August 20, 2006

'World Trade Center' Review

Rarely will I pay $8 or more to see a movie in the theaters instead of waiting for it to be on DVD. However, now is not one of those times.

World Trade Center is worth the money and time. It's not escapist crap or touchy feely stuff, it's serious with its moments of humanity.

We know what happens, 9/11 thousands work at or near the World Trade Center, and this story is about a few of them.....

We meet New York Port Authority Sergeant John McLaughlin, a 20 year vet of the department. McLoughlin goes to work at his HQ on Manhattan after glancing at his wife and 4 children. He leaves home before 4 am to get into the city.

McLoughlin is played well by Nicolas Cage, whom some wrote off for his 4 or 5 Jerry Bruckheimer films, and yes even The Lord of War. Cage gives a good performance as a hardened cop.

However, this cop and Officer Will Jimeno, played by The Shield's Michael Pena, are among those sent into hellstorm, that day. Jimeno regularly guarded the NYC PA Bus Terminal, and when not there is with his wife Allison, 5-months pregnant. All begins like a normal day.

Then the shadows of Flight 11, the first airliner fly over NYC. We never see the planes grotesque kamikaze dives into the Towers, but see it on footage from that day. The rest of the Towers shots are CGI. We see office workers for the PA, in the Towers shaken by a boom and rattling. They think it's an accident. We never see Plane 2, which is dismissed by the cops as rumors, but then we see the results.....

The cops commandeer a bus, with dozens of others and head to the World Trade Center. Racing alongside fire trucks, police cars, and other emergency vehicles, the rescuers head to what is supposed to be a hypothetical scenario. The Towers are now ablaze, after the attacks. Now the film enters into all too real events.....

They see people jumping to their deaths, they are inside and see the burst water mains, shattered windows inside the underground mall between the towers, and the wounded inside the lobbies. These cops went from regular hardened officers into jarred and very very alert humans.

Then at 9:59 am, The South Tower comes down ontop of them and hundreds of others....... We see them die, right? No. McLoughlin and Jimeno live through the 1st and 2nd collapses, trapped under rubble, with internal bleeding. A rookie, Dominick Pezzulo (forgive me for spelling) is trapped, but he is crushed after the North Tower collapses shifting rubble onto him and his 2 living partners. Pezzulo, played too briefly by Jay Hernandez, is killed. Now, Jimeno and McLoughlin are not just fighting off pain and discomfort, but also trying to muster the will to live.

Back at home, in Goshen, NY and in New Jersey, we focus on the McLoughlin and Jimeno families. We see one wife, trying to be a rock, but cracking under the strain. Maria Bello does a great job as Donna McLoughlin. She is trying to calm other EMS and Cops wives, but herself is privately fearful for John's life. Then we see Allison Jimeno, very well portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The same Maggie who made statements on 9/11 that were taken many ways, but is nonetheless a good actress. We see a pregnant Mrs. Jimeno starting to panic and then accept the fact that her husband is gone....... Both actresses portrayed a microcosm of the lives permanently altered that day.....

Bravo, ladies. Very well done.

Meanwhile, John and Will keep talking and keep recollecting on their families and their jobs. Both struggle to live. They were both trapped inside the rubble of Ground Zero for well over 12 hours. However, the NYPD and FDNY try and get them out. They are helped by civilians and free-lancers who offer to help. One free-lancer is a financial worker, Phil Karnes, who is also an ex US Marine. Karnes, maybe a real character or a compilation of other real life and rumored rescuers and saints on that day. However, Karnes is portrayed by Michael Shannon, usually in lighter roles or supporting roles as a goof or oddball. Here, Shannon is all business as the divinely led Marine, that's right, he's a Christian who prays before heading from Connecticut to NYC, in full uniform......

McLoughlin and Jimeno are rescued, they were the 18th and 19th persons out of 20 total that lived through both Tower Collapses and the other buildings. Close to 2700 were not so lucky.

World Trade Center was directed by Oliver Stone, who omits sketchy black and white documentary style shots, political overtones, and outright conspiracy theories. There are plenty of those on 9/11, but Mr. Stone does a good job of leaving those out. Stone did a good job in changing gears from serious and sometimes overdramatized speculations into pure filmmaking, like he did with Wall Street and Platoon.

In WTC are also good performances by Ned Eisenberg, Stephen Dorff, and Jude Ciccollela (Mike Novick on 24) as PAPD and NYPD Officers. Jude is shown as entering the WTC melee in a nice blue cap and white shirt, then he's seen later covered in the blood of others and in dust. The head cop is shaken. Stephen Dorff does a good job as a tired yet vigilant NYPD ESU Officer Strauss. And yes, Stone favorite Frank Whaley appears as a former paramedic (his license lapsed, no malpractice) who helps Jimeno and McLoughlin. And since we're on 24 actors, Roger Cross, aka Curtis has a minute as Jimeno's doctor after the 2 cops are pulled alive.

WTC is a good way to spend your time. By no means does it get too cheesy or too convoluted, but it does show just a small part of the lives affected by America's deadliest terrorist act, ever. It will stir up emotions you thought dormant since 5 years ago and takes you back to that day. This is a 'Never Forget' type picture, minus any stereotypes or overt flag waving (minus Marine Karnes).

I dunno if this will get Oscars, but it's worth a watch. Not bad for Oliver Stone's first ever non R-rated theatrical release.

World Trade Center is not a film to forget.

19 Comments:

  • At 10:08 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    But I don't want to give Stone my dough. He's a horse's ass.

    I also don't agree that this movie is about 9/11 per se. Stone wants the message of the event to reflect the strength of the human spirit overcoming terrible misfortune, a theme depicted well in countless other films. By doing this, Stone ignores, or diverts attention from, the real message of the event, which is that scumbags want to kill us. I think that's a slap in the face to around 3000 dead Americans. I can't read the dude's mind, but purposely or not, the event is exploited to add to the dramatic impact of the story. You have to admit, I would think, that your feelings about the story and performances had to be influenced by your knowledge of the event at least on a subconscious level. Would it have had the impact if Cage and the other dude were under the rubble of a tunnel cave-in? It might still be a great story, but worthy of the same level of praise? At some point I may have the opportunity to see it without fattening Stone's wallet. He's a good film maker, even if most of his films are tainted by his wacky notions. I'm sure I'll like it, but not on my dime.

     
  • At 7:10 AM, Blogger Ranando said…

    WOW MA,

    That's a typical rant from someone who hasn't even seen the movie.

    Nick,

    Glad you liked it, it's a good movie that needs to be seen.

     
  • At 7:52 AM, Blogger NDwalters said…

    Ran, how ya been man?

    Saw previews for Babel and Black Dahlia. They look good.

    Marshall, your choice to see it or not. If someone rents it for you, then you'll watch it? That's fine. I just felt the need to be a test subject. I missed United 93, which should be out soon....

     
  • At 9:34 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    I don't slight anyone for choosing to see it. That's perfectly fine.

    And for ranando,

    I don't need to see it for my comments to accurate. I'm sure the film is good, because as I've said, the chucklehead knows how to make a movie. But there's been enough talk and reviews to get the idea of what he's trying to put across, and it ain't that assholes want to kill us. That's the lesson from the event. We already know about the human spirit. It serves the nation not a whit to state what is widely known and demonstrated with every catastrophe that befalls us, be it man made or act of God. As powerful and dramatic as it surely is to depict that aspect of it, it has, as I've said, been done many times before. He could have made a film about the same theme and made it about the Chicago fire or the San Francisco earthquakes but it wouldn't have had the impact on the viewers that this film surely has with the attacks so clearly brought back to peoples's minds.

    Look at it this way. You may recall a great TV show from a few years back called "Homocide: Life on the Streets" There was an episode surrounding a character played by Vincent D'Onofrio (SP) wherein his character is pushed off a subway platform and is hit bya a train. He's alive, but only because his body, the torso of which is twisted 180 degrees at the waist, is pinned by the train, preventing his lower half from falling off and him dying immediately. The show is about him dying slowly as they try to find the guy who pushed him, and Vinnie's girlfriend so he can say goodby. Very powerful stuff. All fiction, but imagine if it was based on the death of a loved one. It would be, for you, that much more compelling. Such is World Trade Center. It is as powerful as it is because of 9/11, not just the guys trapped in the rubble.

    But what this country needs, is a film that keeps the attack at the fore, a reminder that assholes want to kill us. A reminder of what assholes did to 3000 fellow Americans. That's what films during WWII tried to do. They tried to let the public know what was at stake so that they had a better idea of why we were at war. Is Stone capable of making a film like THAT? Are you, ranando, capable of understanding the difference between a mindless rant for the sake of crapping on Stone, and a thoughtful dissertation on the merits of making a film who's theme has been depicted hundreds of times? It's got nothing to do with whether or not the film is good or whether or not I'd like it.

     
  • At 8:31 AM, Blogger Ranando said…

    "But what this country needs, is a film that keeps the attack at the fore, a reminder that assholes want to kill us."

    Do me a favor MA, when this movie gets made, make sure the first one to see it is George W. Bush.

     
  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger NDwalters said…

    I imagine he has, Ran. Now, I heard ABC is doing a miniseries on the 9/11 events, as spelled out by the Commission Report.

    Harvey Keitel, Patricia Heaton and others....

     
  • At 6:58 PM, Blogger Mooneyguy said…

    I don't know how he's going to find time to watch that film, what with reading books 2+ hours a day. And heavy stuff like The Stranger, Macbeth and the like. Whew!

     
  • At 9:33 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    renando,

    Bush is one who doesn't need reminding. Damn near every Democrat needs to, and that's for sure. In fact, they should watch beheading videos on a daily basis because they haven't a clue regarding the stakes.

     
  • At 7:43 AM, Blogger Ranando said…

    "Damn near every Democrat needs to, and that's for sure".

    Last time I check the Republicans controlled The White House and both houses.

    Bush's war on terror is a JOKE! Telling Israel to stop killing terrorist, what a BOZO.

    Truman dropped the bomb and he was a Democrat and if I'm not wrong it was a Republican that lost the war in VietNam.

     
  • At 9:14 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    You aren't honestly trying to compare Truman to the Dems of today are you? Oh yeah. That's like bringing up the Spanish Inquisition when discussing modern Christians. No comparison pal. And Nixon, a RINO, didn't lose the war. It was lost by the time he took office. He just cut the losses at the horrendous point it was.

     
  • At 7:16 AM, Blogger Ranando said…

    I'm a conservative, not a Republican.

    If you look back in history you will see that both Democrats and Republicans kicked ass in war.

    Bush has not kicked ass on anything, for sure not this so called War on Terror, he's a fucking joke.

    Only question you need to ask is if there are more terrorist today then before 911?

     
  • At 6:53 PM, Blogger Ranando said…

    Oh, you can't ask Bush anything, he's fishing today.

    Another vacation while our kids die.

    FUCK HIM!

    A great leader would be in his office until the soldiers are out of harms way, not Bush.

    If you support this type of leader then Fuck You Too!

    Sorry Nick, I got off on a rant...

     
  • At 12:32 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    I have never heard that presidents routinely stayed on the job, without pause whatsoever, during wars. How can this be proven? Great leaders don't micro-manage, especially when they've got good people under them. Also, it's important to remember that presidents don't vacation or take downtime in the same manner the rest of us do. They are not without daily updates and some connection to what's happening. Even in the middle of a lake fishing, he can be gotten in touch with when necessary. Nice try, though.

    Terrorist recruiting goes up when they think they're winning, like after major events like 9/11. Not so much when they're being killed. That's not to say they won't continue to fight, but a victory of some kind, even if only a perceived victory, is what excites the imaginations of the scumbags.

     
  • At 12:33 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    I would add that when they get reports of the "cut & runners", which they do, that brings more assholes out of the woodwork as well.

     
  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Ranando said…

    Like I said,

    If you support this type of leader then Fuck You Too!

     
  • At 8:46 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    Not supporting him is one thing. Making up crap is another. And that's the problem with you, renando. You think I support him unconditionally when I'm merely giving rebuttal to your unsupported misconceptions about him. I'd say that's only fair. I'd do it for you, too. Doesn't mean I support YOU.

     
  • At 9:05 PM, Blogger NDwalters said…

    Gents, come on be civil. Here's the thing Ran, I dunno if this got across. It has to do with "respect the rank, not the man," saying to try and respect the office of President even when the Prez may or may not be perfect. Reagan was railed on and drug through the mud, but history showed much of his decisions to have worked out for the better. Bush, controversial as he is may be judged harsh and good by some. Every PResident will have a mixed legacy. FDR- Wartime PResident, but New Deal was a raw deal to some. Nixon- got US out of Vietnam but Watergate was his undoing. Clinton- FMLA Act was good, Monica bad, and so on.

    Just saying that's all.

     
  • At 10:15 PM, Blogger Ranando said…

    Nick,

    I'm always civil, unless I'm dealing with an IDIOT.

    MA is an IDIOT.

     
  • At 8:00 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said…

    Always civil. That's funny. You're just making jokes now aren't ya. Keep in mind we all visited the Museum and you were often a horse's ass, just like your last comment. Happened anytime you got a rebuttal you didn't like. Good to see you've still got it.

     

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