“In the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster, hope is still alive. Refusing to bow down to terrorism, rescuers and family of the victims press forward. Their mission of rescue and recovery is driven by the faith that under each piece of rubble, a co-worker, a friend a family member may be found. This is the true story of John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, two of the last survivors extracted from Ground Zero and the rescuers who never gave up. It’s a story of the true heroes of that fateful time in the history of the United States when buildings would fall and heroes would rise, literally from the ashes to inspire the entire human race.”
As much as I wish this were a sci-fi/fantasy story, sadly it is not. I am writing this review because I think it is a film that deserves to be seen, focusing not on the blame that should be attributed to the attackers, but on the pain felt by the victims.
The film is set predominantly under the rubble of the World Trade Center, with excellent dialogue between John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, their characters played here by Nicholas Cage and Michael Pena respectively. For a long movie such as this to survive, the dialogue must be particularly gripping. I think the film succeeds in capturing that these people have backgrounds, families, lives that are all affected by the attacks.
The first half hour of the movie is stunning, but by far my favourite moment was the collapse of the towers. The horror, the scale and the immensity are captured magnificently. We do not see the towers collapse from the outside; a move that would have been particularly easy to make when editing the movie. Instead we are actually shown inside the tower building during the collapse.
Whether or not the film itself is for you, is very much up to your own personal opinion. I personally regard it to be a touching and personal look into the 9/11 disaster, which is often overshadowed now by the Iraq War and other media sensations. It’s humbling to look back and see how, as the film’s tagline shows, “On Americas Darkest Day, Two Men Held On To Hope”.
Many will find the film too long or depressing, or simply not what they were expecting. I feel it is a necessary look at events that, no matter how difficult to see, were, as another of the film’s taglines states, the defining moments of our generation. From a director reknowned for his political movies, here Oliver Stone is remarkably muted, choosing instead to face the humanity of the disaster. It works exceedingly well.
A worthy purchase, whether or not you choose to get the one disc or two-disc collector’s edition (which contains a wealth of extra features and documentary material), the feature film is well worth the money. Both sets (I believe, I only received one) contain a commentary from the real Will Jimeno, on whom the eponymous movie character is based, and three other police officers present on September 11th. Poignant and moving, it’s a great way to view the movie if you truly want to get close to the events.
In Brief: A humbling, inspiration and poignant movie.