World Trade Center

2006, Drama, 2h 9m

234 Reviews 250,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

As a visually stunning tribute to lives lost in tragedy, World Trade Center succeeds unequivocally, and it is more politically muted than many of Stone's other works. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Two Port Authority officers, Sgt. John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Officer Will Jimeno (Michael Peña), become trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center after going in to help people escape from the buildings during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Cast & Crew

Nicolas Cage
Sgt. John McLoughlin
Michael Peña
Officer Will Jimino
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Allison Jimeno
Maria Bello
Donna McLoughlin
Stephen Dorff
Scott Strauss
Jay Hernandez
Dominick Pezzulo
Nicholas Turturro
Officer Colovito
Jude Ciccolella
Inspector Fields
Donna Murphy
Judy Jonas
Danny Nucci
Officer Giraldi
Gary Stretch
Jimmy McGuinness
Seamus McGarvey
Cinematographer
David Brenner
Film Editor
Julie Monroe
Film Editor
Jan Roelfs
Production Design
Beth A. Rubino
Set Decoration
Craig Armstrong
Original Music
Donald J. Lee Jr.
Executive Producer
Norman Golightly
Executive Producer
Michael Dennison
Costume Designer
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News & Interviews for World Trade Center

Critic Reviews for World Trade Center

All Critics (234) | Top Critics (61) | Fresh (156) | Rotten (78)

  • Admittedly, there are a few great shots... But, still, none of it says anything new. And it's just so sentimental.

    August 22, 2018 | Full Review…
  • (Director Oliver) Stone has concentrated on one of the catastrophe's stories and has fashioned it well -- with almost palpable physical detail, and with performances that never sink to exploitation.

    October 26, 2006
  • It celebrates the courage of the rescue teams and the fortitude of their families while giving you a visceral sense of what it was like to be among them.

    October 1, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It's almost as if Stone wants to ingratiate himself with the mainstream public that rejected his historical blockbuster Alexander and win the approval of his right-wing critics.

    September 30, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Even without his box of political tricks, Oliver Stone remains the foremost cinematic shrink for America's distress.

    September 29, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Destiny pervades the project, and anyone who expected Stone to toe anything other than the company line was gravely mistaken.

    September 28, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for World Trade Center

  • Oct 27, 2019
    I won't play down the film it wasn't, but an Oliver Stone film without political or social context is just odd. Stone wasn't the correct filmmaker for this film and while he might have been invested in the storyline, it lacks his normal filmmaking style. It's hard to critique a film that is about hope after one of the most shallowest displays against innocents in recent history. I would've liked less of the typical outside looking in scenarios with the families. I felt it took away the moments with the trapped actors. If you look at 127 hours and what Danny Boyle risked and accomplished as an example, this film suffers from all the standard true story issues. The film is about the survivors and the heroes that rescued them, and on that front it does work. A little too much melodramatic family moments lose what could have been incredibly tense film. 26/10/2019
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2012
    An Oliver Stone-directed and Nicolas Cage-starring film about 9/11, five years after 9/11. How could this possibly go wrong? Yeah, I figured if anyone was gonna have the guts to try something like this, then it would be the King of Controversy himself, yet, before this film came out and turned out to be really good and, every so surprisingly, relatively restrained, I'd imagine plenty of people were hoping that Stone wouldn't go this far, because the man couldn't even make a film about Alexander the Great without it being offensive, though not so much because of its subject matter, but rather because of its quality. Hey, forget you guys, I still really liked "Alexander", but I must admit that I really can't think of too good of a reason why in the world it was Oliver Stone, of all people, who made an Alexander the Great biopic, outside of the fact that they needed someone who could make an epic of that kind of grand subject matter real good and long, because as the three-and-a-half-hour conversational epic that was "JFK" definately proved, Stone isn't one to tighten things up too much. I guess that just goes to further prove how much more relatively restrained this film is from other Oliver Stone efforts (PG-13... Holy Hank Williams!), because this film really isn't that long, or at least not by Oliver Stone standards, seeing as how 130 minutes is still a pretty hefty length. Shoot, if Stone had his way, this film would be about three hours long, and really, I'm surprised he didn't gun for a director's cut of this or, well, any succeeding film, because if it was a 1990s, or, in the case of "Alexander", not very well-reviewed Oliver Stone film, you better believe that there was a director's cut of it out there. I don't know, maybe I'm just complaining so much because I wanted to stick with this film longer, because, say what you will about Oliver Stone, but the man knows how to make a good movie (*cough*like*cough*"Alex*cough*ander"*cough), though ones that are most certainly not without more than a fair share of flaws, and sure enough, while this film is more restrained, and even less flawed than other Stone efforts, it's not without its faults. Oliver Stone takes some restraint with this film, or at least as much as he can, and presents no palpable agenda, but instead chooses to dramatically meditate upon those struggling to survive and those struggling with the horrors of uncertainty during 9/11, which is great and all, except for the fact that this film perhaps outstays its welcome. Sure, you can definately say that about the three-and-a-half-hour dialogue piece that was "JFK", yet that was one of those frenetic style pieces riddled to no end with intrigue, and seeing as how Stone has been doing so much of that over the years, people tend to forget that Stone has had his fair share of slow moments, and sure enough, with this film, slowness comes with restraint, for although this film's particularly slow spots aren't quite as consistent as those of "Platoon" or something, they remain prevalent enough to keep the film often moving at a sometimes limp pace, while leaving the film's being overlong to rise more to attention. This situation is at its worst during the development segment, which goes padded out through excess material and slowed nearly to a crawl by a dry, if not sometimes rather dull atmosphere, made all the worse by Oliver Stone's making a bit too sure that he gets clean across the point that he's pulling back with his portrayal of this extremely traumatic and relevant tragedy, by going so restrained that he ultimately leaves tension to fall flat, and the film itself to become rather distant, which isn't to say that I'd rather Stone bring in his usual freneticism and make this film almost offensively overbearing, but it is to say that the film disengagingly limps out during some of the most crucial expository moments. After the film picks up, it never again falls to the state of being that emotionally distant, or slow, or, for that matter, overdrawn, yet it rarely picks up all that much before it finds itself slowed back down by dry spells and dragging, as well as by Stone's continuing to be a bit too careful with this subject matter, no longer by keeping an emotional distance, but by sometimes distancing total genuineness from emotional resonance. For the most part, the film is fairly genuine with its emotional resonance, yet there are key points in which Stone manipulates atmosphere, less subtle spots in Andrea Berloff's screenplay and, of course, Craig Armstrong's score to drain the emotional resonance of subtlety, and at that moment, all of the story conventions and emotional tricks come to attention and further slow down the momentum of this film. For quite a few reasons that I'll touch upon later, I feel that Oliver Stone is a surprisingly good choice to direct this, yet in many ways, he doesn't entirely fit, not quite having as much subtlety as he should when it comes to resonance, nor having quite as much experience as he should when it comes to restraint, as he leaves the film to not quite bite as firmly as it could have and just kind of circle the drain. Of course, the point around which this film circles is still pretty high, for although this film doesn't hit quite as much as it should have, or even quite as much as a few other Oliver Stone efforts, Stone hits much more often than not and crafts a film that may have its flaws, but never descends beneath being rewarding as a dramatic piece, or, if nothing else, a stylistic piece. With the overwhelming freneticism goes much quite a bit of the stylistic touches that make Oliver Stone's taste in style just so blasted good, and it doesn't help that the absence of a cinematographer as excellent as Robert Richardson is rather noticable, so of course the film isn't quite as visually stunning as other Stone efforts, nor is it even all that consistently striking, yet, when it's all said and done, it's hard for an Oliver Stone film to not look good, and sure enough, while he doesn't always deliver on the breathtaking goods, Seamus McGarvey never ceases to deliver on some certain degree of photographic sharpness, drawing handsome detail from color that, at the right moment, all but stops you cold. Of course, McGarvey's photography is perhaps at its most impressive during our moments with John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno under the debris of one of the towers, as McGarvey manages to keep everything tight and darkly lit, as well as gritty, thus making for many a neat shot that's both visually striking and immerses you in this intense setting. What further sells you on both the tension and emotion of those moments are leading men Nicolas Cage and Michael Peña, who deliver on the human depths, layers and emotional range needed to convey the frustrations, strength, fear and hope found within hopeful people trapped within seemingly hopeless situations, thus making them compelling leads, which isn't to say that the other members of this colorful cast of star talents don't deliver on engaging emotion and presence that defines the character this film is so heavily reliant upon. Of course, one of the biggest reasons why this film is so compelling is because the story is, of course, so strong, being structured with a few conventions by screenwriter Andrea Berloff, as well as with a few lapses in subtlety, courtesy of Oliver Stone's direction, but still having such weight and relevance behind it to compliment depth and humanity, thus making for an immensely engaging tale that brings this film to life, while the top-off that makes this film as compelling as it ultimately is comes from the man who executes such a worthy story, albeit in a flawed fashion, but generally with a lot of inspiration and in a fashion we're not used to seeing, though certainly welcome. Oliver Stone may be a little bit crazy, but he's not a monster, so of course he's taking some restraint with this subject matter, occasionally too much so, to the point of rendering the film a bit bland in its caution, yet generally to the point of gracing this film with the meditative depth and weight that is missing in many other Oliver Stone efforts and is very much needed in this film, though not quite at the total expense of Stone's audacity to present things with daring realism, thus making for a marriage between restraint and intensity that is both reasonably organic and certainly effective. Stone often takes a bit too much restraint in his portrayal of this tragedy, yet more often than not, he finds a fine balance that he rarely explores between intensity and subtlety, presenting intense situations with audacious grit in order to establish consequence and nerve-pinching tension, while generally manipulating restraint well enough to bond that intensity with the substance of the story in order for it to not only come off as not gratuitous, but supplementary to the emotional resonance of the film and effectiveness of the respectful and affectingly authentic tribute to those who suffered through the unthinkable. Of course, some of the most potent moments of effectiveness in this film are the ones in which Stone manages to not go too far with his manipulation of the genuine moments of drama, to where things are neither too unsubtle nor too distant, simply balanced in their genuineness, thus making for golden moments of piercing resonance that define this film, both as a compelling drama by its own right and as a tribute to survival and humanity during the darkest of times, with no real agenda, just the intention of crafting a poignant film, which is exactly what Stone crafts, for although this film isn't without its faults and ultimately stands to be more potent, it generally delivers on consistent compellingness and ultimately stands as a truly rewarding experience. When it's all said and done, the film has its slow spots, and just enough to lose quite a bit of steam at times and leave you to notice just how overlong everything is, while faults in Stone's acts of restraint - which either go restrained to the point of being a touch emotionally distance, or emphatic to the point of being unsubtle, if not a bit sentimental - taint the film's consistent effectiveness, bring story conventions more to attention and ultimately help in leaving the final product to stand as not quite as thrilling or well-handled as it probably should be, yet still thrilling and well-handled, to a certain degree, nevertheless, boasting a strikingly clever visual style that's both handsome and supplementary to the grit of the film, as well as a myriad of emotionally-involved and profoundly human performances that bring the character aspects - upon which this film is so heavily reliant - to life, while Oliver Stone generally cuts through his mistakes and delivers on respectful restraint, married with audacious realism in order to deliver on both the potent intensity and sometimes penetratingly genuine emotional depth needed to bring this worthy story to life and leave "World Trade Center" to stand firm as a consistently compelling and ultimately rewarding disaster drama and tribute to those who faced the unthinkable with rewarding bravery and hope. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 16, 2012
    Director Oliver Stone delivers an inspirational tale of human triumph in his modern epic, World Trade Center. Based on true stories the film follows a Port Authority team that gets caught in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attacks. Nicolas Cage gives an outstanding performance (especially given that he spends most of the film buried in rubble), and is joined by a strong supporting cast that includes Michael Pena, Maria Bello, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Additionally, Stone does an excellent job at covering the events of September 11th without being exploitative. However, the writing is a bit shaky and falls back on cliches a bit too often. Still, World Trade Center is a compelling and moving film about the 9/11 experience.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 27, 2012
    This is one of Oliver Stone's best films. Although not as powerful as United 93, World Trade Center tells the courageous true story of two firemen, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno Two Port Authority officers that were stuck in the debris of the World Trade Center upon the collapse of the towers on September 11, 2001. World Trade Center is good drama that tells the human side of these atrocious acts. Nick Cage is surprisingly good here, compared to his other efforts. Although not as powerful as United 93, which in my opinion is the definitive film on the 9/11 attacks, this is nonetheless a must see film with great performances, a good cast, good directing and a powerful true story. This is of course a hard film to watch, one that will stay with you long after you've seen it. I thought the film played well on the dramatic elements of this real life tragedy without overdoing it. Oliver Stone has struggled with making good films, but this one is one of his best efforts since The Doors and Natural Born Killers. The film is a human story, which in away sort of echoes Stone's Platoon, in the sense it shows the chaos for what it is. But the difference is, is that World Trade Center has a deeper sense of inspiration, a heart within the chaos unfolding on-screen. This ranks among Oliver Stone's best films.A truly unique film, this is a film that will stay with you from start to finish.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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