Like a lot of conservative film critics, I was more than a little apprehensive to hear that anti-American conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone would be making a movie about 9/11. Fortunately, whatever his past cinematic sins and however many he may commit in the future, there is no reason to fear World Trade Center. On the contrary, Stone gives us many reasons to stand up and applaud.
His latest (and, to date, most successful) effort tells the true story of John McLoughlin (Nicholas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena), two Port Authority police officers who went into the World Trade Center to save lives and ended up needing rescuing themselves. Jumping between the trapped officers, their frantic spouses, and their would-be rescuers, Stone turns the memory of the U.S.’s worst day into a requiem that tells of our honor and triumph as much as our pain and devastation.
The most nuclear of families gather to pray through their distress; a marine-turned-accountant leaves his home in Connecticut and heads for ground zero to offer whatever service he can; a faith-filled clergyman tells a parishioner that if he truly feels Jesus calling on him to save victims, he must find a way to answer; and servicemen, paramedics, and local officers risk their lives together rescuing the fallen. At no point are any Americans, be they soldiers, civilians, or politicians, portrayed as anything other than stalwart patriots determined to do good in the most devastating of circumstances.
In fact, so much pro-America, pro-faith sentiment pervades World Trade Center some mainstream critics like The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan panned it for making “an explicit connection between Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq that will make the Bush White House and the Republican National Committee eager to embrace it as their own.”
What then could right-leaning reviewers object to other than Stone’s grandiose directorial style and Cage’s continuing penchant for over-acting? Somehow, a lot.
Says Brian Carney of The Wall Street Journal, “…there are no villains in Mr. Stone's movie. Nicholas Cage's John McLoughlin and Michael Pena's Will Jimeno could have been trapped by an earthquake or an accident.” National Review Online’s critic Peter Suderman charges, “His movie all but ignores political and societal ramifications of that day...” And Human Events’ Janice Shaw Crouse complains, “Except for the shadow of a plane that foretells the terrorism, Stone's version of the story morphs into just another challenging event or natural disaster.”
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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