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World Trade Center Review

Published August 11, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount Pictures.
World Trade Center Poster World Trade Center Poster
Oh boy, I’m going to have to say critical things about World Trade Center and everybody’s going to think I’m heartless and unpatriotic because the problems with the narrative are the things that make it the most realistic. But it’s a film and the parts that don’t work make it less of an experience.

World Trade Center Review


It starts off well. 9/11 happens pretty much right when all the officers check in to work. The build up to going into the towers to rescue people is full of carnage and sound that immerses the viewer in the experience. The actual collapse is terrifyingly overwhelming, and the further obstacles to survival are intense. Jesus, they had fireballs raining down on them.

It’s scarier than United 93 because the emotional narrative keeps you closer to the characters than the documentary style. You’re with the guys when they panic and when they resourcefully find ways to survive. They’re not just anonymous faces who decided to band together.

But once the port authority officers are trapped, the whole movie is waiting. Now, waiting for two hours is nothing compared to the 12 hours of waiting the real officers and their families had to do. I would not wish that on anyone. But cutting back and forth between survivors trying to motivate each other and families waiting for news is not very dramatic.



One of the problems is that nobody was looking for these guys for a long time. There were admittedly other problems diverting attention from survivors. With little active search going on until a random marine decides to disobey curfew, many of the waiting scenes become repetitive. Again, very realistic, just not dramatic.

Then Oliver Stone gives us his visions of Jesus. Not sure what he was going for there, but I guess it beats an Indian shaman.

I’ll also say that for all the attention to period detail, the Zoolander billboard in the street and all, there was one glaring inaccuracy. A happy family is shown through a window watching something funny on their TV. On 9/11, every single station was running nonstop coverage for days. Not even Nickelodeon was running cartoons on that day.

World Trade Center presents a powerful impression of 9/11. It may play more on pathos than actual storytelling, but it’s hard to suggest a different approach.

Stay tuned for updates.


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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Paramount Pictures.
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