Thursday, August 17, 2006

'WTC' a memorial to heroes

It was just another day.

John McLouglin rolled out of bed early, as is his custom. Time to go to work.

The day dawned bright and beautiful — not a cloud in the sky. It was election day in New York, time to pick a new mayor.

Then the first plane hit the World Trade Center and changed the world forever.

Oliver Stone’s brilliant new film, “World Trade Center,” is really McLouglin’s story. And, more than that, it’s the story of survival — and humanity.

McLouglin (Nicolas Cage) and fellow New York Port Authority police officer Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) are trapped deep within the rubble of the collapsed towers. They had gone there to help after the first tower hit that morning.

McLouglin is an old pro. He worked the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. He knows the score — and the grim truth that there is no real plan to deal with this disaster. Jimeno is a rookie, fresh faced and more emotional.

Together they find themselves trapped in a literal hell, burning flesh and all. They keep talking to one another as the hours tick by, keeping each other awake, waiting for help.

Meanwhile, their wives, played by Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal, watch and wait, growing more desperate as more and more sand falls through the hourglass.

Watching the horror unfold on TV is former Marine David Karnes (Michael Shannon), who heads to Ground Zero from Connecticut, eager to help, feeling called by God to do so. It would seem cartoonish if it wasn’t true.

For once, Stone puts conspiracy theories aside to create a taut, well-acted thriller. Deep in his soul, Stone is a storyteller, and the talent that has often become bogged down in malaise (think “JFK”) shines through here.

Cage delivers an understated, stoic performance, perfect for his character. Bello’s quiet strength may be the best performance of the film.

And to his everlasting credit, Stone does not exploit 9/11. Instead, he records a moving tribute to real heroes, as corny as that sounds nowadays.

When McLouglin and Jimeno are pulled from the rubble and passed down the line of waiting firefighters, you want to stand and cheer. A card at the end of the film, however, reminds you that McLoughlin and Jimeno were the fortunate ones; so many more emergency personnel met their maker underneath the rubble.

Five years removed, 9/11 stands as the defining moment of this generation. The communal “We can get through this together” attitude that blossomed ever so briefly after the tragedy is gone now, replaced by partisan bickering and arguments over the mundane.

Let “World Trade Center” stand as a reminder to what almost happened here in America. And let it serve as a memorial to McLouglin, Jimeno and all those who rushed into those burning towers on that fateful September morning — those who returned and those who didn’t.

“World Trade Center” is now playing at Regal Knoxville Center. It is rated PG-13.


Blogger thinkingasiwrite said...

Due to a couple of books I've been reading lately, I guess, 9/11 has been on my heart and mind a lot wierd as it sounds, it's become more real to me. I REALLY want to go see this movie. Thanks for reccomending
it--I'm always hesitant to try these kind out without knowing how they've been done. I know it will make a lasting impression on me and I want it to be accurate, etc.

So thank you again!!

8:11 PM  

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