Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Andrea Berloff, John McLoughlin
Cast: Nicholas Cage, Maria Bello
World Trade Center is the true story of two Port Authority officers who go to the World Trade Center on September 11th and get trapped in the rubble when the buildings come down.
The two men are John McLoughlin and Dominick Pezzulo. When the buildings come down, they are trapped under rubble and are unable to move. McLoughlin, played by Nicolas Cage, basically only has half his head visible under the piles of debris. It’s very dark. The two men talk about McLoughlin’s kitchen and the shelving unit that needs completing.
Although the events of the day are extraordinary and horrific, the actual account of two guys stuck in darkness who can’t move isn’t particularly gripping since we know from the set up that they both make it out alive. So to flesh out the story we get to see a bit of the two families dealing with the news of their husband’s being missing and eventually being discovered.
The problem here is not that World Trade Center is a bad movie. It’s not. The problem is that there was a documentary released in 2002 called 9/11 about two French documentarians who were making a film about New York firefighters on the day. The documentarians who were brothers were split up and both captured amazing footage including the only known video of the first plane hitting the tower, the only known video inside the World Trade Center as it came down and the brother’s tearful reunion after they both managed to escape which was also caught on video.
No amount of acting by Nicolas Cage and Jay Hernandez can improve on what is basically a retelling of a near identical story.
Also, the decision to use well known actors throughout the film make it hard to suspend disbelief. Nicolas Cage is fine since he is in the dark and we spend most of the movie seeing half of his head. But did we have to see Donnie Darko’s sister, Etham Rom from Lost and character actors from Law and Order? I think United 93 got it right by having a complete cast of unknowns for its film.
Ultimately, World Trade Center is a pretty missable film that is well made and not nearly as cheesy as its trailer suggests but it is redundant in the context of other films that have been made on the subject and the decision to cast familiar faces in nearly every significant role in the film.