Sunday, August 13, 2006

My Take - World Trade Center

My Take on the Movies
A Mini-Review of
By: A. L. “Toni” Anderson

The story of the September 11, 2001 destruction of New York City’s twin towers is a familiar one. Nearly five years after the event, Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center (2006) tells a lesser-known story of many acts of heroism by two New York Port Authority policemen and by unnamed and uncounted others. This particular story is based on accounts of real-life Port Authority officers John McLoughlin and William Jimeno who, as designated “first responders” are called away from their regular assignments following the tragedy. Little do they suspect that their rescue attempts will necessitate their own rescue from Ground Zero.

Nicolas Cage (The Lord of War - 2005) is Sergeant McLoughlin, commander of a troop of PPA cops assigned to provide assistance to victims of the suicide bombings. Michael Peña (Crash - 2004) is the unit’s rookie officer, who volunteers for the delegation because he has something to prove. Unfortunately, their unit themselves become victims, as both towers come crashing down on the connecting area between. The film centers on their ordeal while trapped for twenty-four hours beneath Building 5, and their determination to survive despite overwhelming odds.

An alternate storyline deals with the wives and families of the missing PPA heroes. Donna McLoughlin is portrayed by Maria Bello (Assault on Precinct 13 - 2005), and a pregnant Allison Jimeno is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (Monster House - 2006). Connor Paolo, Anthony Piccininni, Alexa Gerasimovich, and Morgan Flynn are the McLoughlin offspring; Tiffany Romano is Bianca Jimeno.

Michael Shannon (Bad Boys II - 2003) does a fine job of portraying ex-Marine Dave Karnes, whose single-minded effort is largely responsible for the discovery of Jimeno and McLoughlin, when each is nearly out of strength and the will to continue living.

The supporting cast is filled out by Jay Hernandez (Friday Night Lights - 2004), Armando Riesco (Third Watch), Jon Bernthal (How I Met Your Mother), and Nick Damici (CSI: New York & Miami), as well as other members of the actual crew who free Jimeno and McLoughlin from their underground prison. Kimberly Scott (Guess Who - 2005) plays Sergeant King. A cameo appearance is made by World Trade Center survivor William Jimeno.

Certainly, the story is one that needs telling. One sees so much needless violence that it is easy to lose faith in humanity. As fascinating as the story itself is, however, for long stretches of time the only action is provided by falling rocks and debris, while Peňa’s character has holy visions and Cage gives his usual, wooden performance. There are some genuine, heart-warming moments here, but too few, and much too far between. It is an inspiring story, but one that goes on too long. [2:05]

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

[© 08/13/2006]


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