Posted at 10:48 AM on August 9, 2006
by Euan Kerr
Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" is too clean.
This is despite an unrelenting onslaught of dust and debris as the story unfolds of two New York Port Authority police officers caught in the collapse of the buildings after the September 11th attacks. It's impossible not to feel at the least parched and terrified as John McLoughlin (Nicholas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Peņa) try to stay alive as they wait to be rescued.
People looking for signs of Oliver Stone's penchant for conspiracy will have to look hard. His message is perhaps a little quieter. McLoughlin is part of a team created after the first World trade Center attack to prepare for future disasters, but it's clear they are unprepared for anything of this magnitude. The men who go in to help with the rescue are valiant, in fact almost suicidal in their bravery. When it all comes down to it they are alone.
The film takes an audience through an emotional maelstrom. People were weeping in the theater when I saw it. Yet the film stumbles to an end, leaving a void rather than a conclusion.
In taking on this story, Stone is attempting something huge. The September 11th attacks are burned onto the consciousness of everyone old to remember them, and they have also taken on an iconic, almost mythological, status for society as a whole. Wisely Stone focuses down on these individual stories to examine the horror of that day.
Yet he has gone too far in that quest. As McLoughlin and Jimeno's real life story plays out, it feels isolated from the rest of the world. These are the experiences of two men in a terrible situation, trapped under tons of rubble. That isolation reflects their reality, but ultimately it leaves the movie wanting because the characters are cocooned in a blanket of quiet.
Perhaps "World Trade Center" will get people talking about what happened that day, and what has happened since as a result. That can't hurt.