On September, 11th 2001, after the terrorist attack to the World Trade Center, the building collapses over the rescue team from the Port Authority Police Department. Will Jimeno and his sergeant John McLoughlin are found alive trapped under the wreckage while the rescue teams fight to save them.
I hadn’t planned on seeing this one when I heard about it, since Oliver Stone is so completely in the tin-foil-hat club. I was not about to pay money to sit through two hours of his theories of how the 9/11 attacks were America’s fault, or perhaps a government plot. When Jeff Jarvis gave his reaction, I felt more inclined to give it a chance. After all, he lived the day more directly than anyone I have actually met and through his blogging I get the New York flavor, not just my distant Arizona memories of the day.
Other reviews, as well, said this was not like other Oliver Stone movies, that he allows the story to tell itself. Good enough, it is a story that needs to be told.
My trepidation, then, became solely my expected reaction to the heart wrenching emotion of it. The trapped police who were there to help, the men who put their lives on the line to help others, just the thought of it breaks my heart. The families who waited and hoped, not knowing. In my safe little house here in Phoenix I was unable to process the loss and I cried imagining what those families were going through; wondering if your loved ones were alive or dead, knowing that, either way, they had been terrified and in pain. I remember how we waited for more of these happy endings, how we would call each other about every rumor that they found someone alive.
I have to say that I agree with US Weekly in their review of this movie: “A disturbing and disjointed letdown”
Maybe I went from expecting too little to expecting too much. I kept waiting to be moved, kept wondering when the emotions would hit. In fact, at one point in the movie (one of the more action packed portions) there was a man in front of us snoring – yep, SNORING – his wife(?) had to jab him in the ribs to wake him up.
I was disappointed by what seemed like a lack of urgency on everyone’s part; the people leaving the buildings (which Jarvis commented on), the police and fire entering the building, the rescue crews working after the collapse. Everyone seemed sort of lackadaisical, not at all what I imagine it was really like.
I never believed that the wives were really waiting for that kind of news, I never felt anguish or longing… They are both fine actresses so I am not sure what the problem was (well, I did find the blue contacts on Maria Bello very distracting). The one moment of true emotion I felt came late in the film when another woman in the hospital was relating her last conversation with her son, an elevator operator. In her eyes, I saw the terror and the grief.
I wouldn’t say this was a bad movie, just not a good one. I needn’t have feared the blame America angle, it wasn’t here really. It may be worth seeing this picture, just for the story, but it needn’t be seen on the big screen. There is just nothing big in the way Stone presents it.
(I think they have the actual guys in the BBQ scene at the end. Anyone?)
UPDATE: Just found another reviewer who was bothered by (among other things) those stupid blue contacts. He, like several other reviewers I found through Rotten Tomatoes, claims to have dreaded United 93 and eagerly anticipated World Trade Center – only to have his opinion of both of them flipped.
Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 71%; Users 70%