DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone tackling 9/11 seemed to be a dream come true. The anti-establishmentarian looking at one of America’s and indeed the worlds darkest, rawest and most politically charged events would on the surface appear to be one of the most anticipated movies of the decade. Was it? No.
The very English and down to earth Paul Greengrass tackled the same subject with his film released earlier that same year, United 93 with a very clinical take, and one that I believe will stand the test of time, in ways that this very certainly will not. World Trade Center follows the experiences of two Port Authority Police Officers who went into the towers and were caught in the collapse.
The film covers these events in detail and only touches on the rest of the story as experienced by the two leads, so my first major gripe with this film is its title. This is NOT about the World Trade Center, it is simply set within its death throes. What’s there is fine, though nothing more than a well-directed “Lifetime Movie Of The Week”, but it doesn’t feel like a major motion picture dealing with one of histories darkest days.
United 93 covers the ground promised by this title, and though that film follows American Airlines Flight 93, it places the flight in the overriding context of the day as a whole. This film simply has two cops arrive at what would become known as Ground Zero, flatten them under the rubble, play out all the cliché’s of trapped people under the rubble and places the passe story into the grander context of the day.
I was very disappointed with this one, as I chose this over United 93, which was my film of the year for 2006, but World Trade Center implied something so much but clearly, we’re still along way from being ready to tell this story theatrically, as it needs to be. The wounds are still too raw and it’s not yet time for the three-hour epic melodrama that this film could have been.
Paul Greengrass’s approach of a clinical documentary style was as far a we were prepared to go for a chilly film, but Oliver Stone, the angry genius behind JFK, Nixon and Platoon, has clearly gone soft and made as safe a film as was humanly possible, maybe in an attempt to regain some creditably after the undue failure that was Alexander.
For the time being we will have to watch the endless docudrama on the horror of New York that day, but as for theatrical features, you will not go wrong with United 93.