World Trade Center may be a fresh tomato, but it did absolutely nothing for me. True, it’s refreshingly non-partisan for an Oliver Stone film, and devoid of 9/11 conspiracy theories, telling a straightforward story of the two officers who were eventually rescued from the rubble. But it tells the story with an overkill of sentimentality, spotlighting anxious family members in between doses of sappy dialogue between the officers as they lay pinned in darkness comforting each other. If Stone has given up on conspiracies, he’s now into punishing us with melodrama.
This reviewer is right:
“World Trade Center is, literally, everything United 93 wasn’t…a grueling, paceless, maudlin train-wreck that every single mainstream film critic in the country will praise out of fear their negative reactions will be seen as a betrayal of both their patriotism and the real-life stories of the movie’s two main characters.”
So is Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly:
“United 93’s brilliance was the way it undermined your defenses by restaging 9/11 with the electric realism of live media. To know what occurred, or might have occurred, on that plane, and to see it as if it was happening before your eyes, fed a need that was at once journalistic, patriotic, and wildly cinematic. It was exactly the sort of film you might have expected Oliver Stone to make, but World Trade Center isn’t a great Stone film; it’s more like a decent Ron Howard film…
“There’s a fundamental lack of dramatic urgency to World Trade Center. The harrowing, at times unbearable grip of United 93 was part of its human tumult. Stone, who at his greatest is the most harrowing of filmmakers, now recedes into the coventionality of uplift.”
I also agree with Pete Vonder Haar:
“This isn’t the Stone of JFK or Salvador, who was quick to look at the machinations behind events and cast his barbs accordingly. Here he does nothing of the sort, making it hard to identify World Trade Center straight out of the gate as an ‘Oliver Stone film.’ Unfortunately, many might peg it as a ‘Ron Howard film’ instead. True story or not, World Trade Center is almost unforgivably sentimental… There’s such a thing as too much. Every heroic action has to be shot in slow motion, and every poignant moment must be punctuated by Craig Armstrong’s swelling orchestral score…World Trade Center eventually stops feeling like a remarkable story of survival and more like a Hallmark Network presentation.”
In sum, while United 93 is a serious cinematic achievement, visceral and non-exploitive, World Trade Center is a schmaltzy dud, something one might expect from a first-time film director. Oliver Stone needs to retire.
(My review of United 93 here.)