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Published January 1st, 2005 | by Coco Forsythe

World Trade Center Review

Classification: 12A Director: Oliver Stone Rating: 1/5

Nicolas Cage. When did it go wrong? He used to be so good: remember him in films like Raising Arizona and Wild At Heart? Actually, a glance at Cage’s resume shows that he’s always been a bit of a hit-and-miss affair; for every triumph (Adaptation, Con Air, Leaving Las Vegas) there have been duds (City of Angels, Gone In Sixty Seconds, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin). Its just that lately his choices seem increasingly bizarre – The Wicker Man, National Treasure, Windtalkers, and now World Trade Center.

Cage is John McLoughlin, a police sergeant at the Port Authority in New York. On the morning of September 11, its business as usual; McLoughlin briefs his men before they head out onto the streets. Then we see lots of scenes of New York street life to remind us what a happy, vibrant city New York was before the shadow of a jumbo jet blocks out the sun and an explosion is heard. In the ensuing chaos, the Port Authority sends a bus load of men down to help in the rescue in the first tower. McLoughlin and his men have only just entered the remaining tower when the second plane hits and they are trapped in the debris.

What follows? Well. Scenes of Cage screaming and yelling. Scenes of his telling Will (Pena) not to give in and fall asleep. The two of them wondering if rescue will come. And then we cut back and forth to the men’s homes, where their lovely wives (Bello and Gyllenhaal) and families wait anxiously for news. News comes – they’re safe! Oh, but it’s a mistake, they are still trapped. The wives are upset. They stare soulfully into the camera, and have soppy flashbacks to their precious memories of their husbands.

World Trade Center, oddly enough, didn’t seem to attract any of the controversy surrounding Paul Greengrass’ sensitive and far superior United 93. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the heroes survive? Because it’s honestly pretty awful. It manages to take the pivotal event of the new millennium – the reason why we’re at war with Iraq – and reduce it to two blokes slowly being crushed in a basement. And the saddest thing of all is that they didn’t even have time to do anything heroic before they were crushed.

Aside from that, it’s just sloppy, and poorly made. The rest of McLoughlin’s team were just as brave, but by the time they go into the WTC, we don’t even know their names, they become cannon fodder. Cage has grown a mustache to indicate that he is serious, a proper working class stiff, but its interesting that the real McLoughlin is bald – obviously that was one step too far. The whole thing feels like the Towering Inferno, except that you couldn’t make it up. For instance, we suddenly cut to a church, where a weird bloke is telling his pastor that he wants to help. This is Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon), a former US Marine who takes it upon himself to dress up in his old uniform and head down to Manhattan where he becomes a one-man rescue squad, with lines like: ‘We’re not leaving. We’re the Marines, you are our mission.’

The worst thing about World Trade Centre is that it implies that there was a link between 911 and Iraq. It’s pernicious and, frankly, awful.

The DVD extras on the two disk special edition include swathes of ‘Making ofs’ and films of the real families.

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