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World Trade Center

Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Oliver Stone
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Maria Bello, Michael Peña, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Frank Whaley
Released by: Paramount Pictures

In Short: Director Oliver Stone returns to top form with this focused, personal look at the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001.

A Time to Remember
Oliver Stone's Unforgettable Take on 9/11
By Jenny Peters

With “World Trade Center,” director Oliver Stone proves that he's still got it. After stumbling pretty badly with “Alexander,” the two-time Best Directing Oscar winner is back doing what he does best: taking a bigger context and distilling it down to a personal story that is completely compelling. He did it with much success with “Born on the Fourth of July,” for example, juxtaposing the Vietnam War against one man's life-wrenching experience; now, with “World Trade Center,” he focuses on the true story of a group of Port Authority police officers who were crushed in the rubble as those New York City towers fell on that fateful day back on Sept. 11, 2001.

As Sergeant John McLoughlin, the leader of the group and a guy who “doesn't smile very much,” Nicolas Cage gives an Oscar-worthy performance; nuanced and compelling. “Crash” breakout star Michael Peña also shines as Patrolman Will Jimeno, as do the actresses (Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal) who play their distraught wives.

Stone's deft handling of the events almost completely eschews the political elements of the tower bombings, focusing instead on how so many stalwart New Yorkers stood up to the challenges of the aftermath. By doing so, he has created a film that strongly evokes the event, yet is not so emotionally disturbing as to make watching impossible.

That's not to say that having tissues in hand while seeing “World Trade Center” is a bad idea. The story is so amazing and compelling, a saga of such incredible personal triumph that only the heartless could get through it without shedding a tear or two. But at the same time, Stone uses levity in key scenes that cut the drama and allow the viewer to regroup emotionally. The overall result is a beautiful film that celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit, and one that is sure to gather its deserved share of end-of-year accolades and awards.


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