Stone Finds Hope and Heroism in 'World Trade Center'

Aug. 8, 2006 — -- Full disclosure: If I didn't have to see this film, I'm not sure I would. It's that tough. And, like me, you may be thinking, "I lived through it once." But the genius of "World Trade Center" is that it isn't a film about a disaster. It's a film about hope.

It's a true story. They used real dialogue from actual events as the survivors told it to the filmmakers. And it does what only great films can do: It takes you to a place you've never been before and makes it a place you'll never forget.

We begin on a beautiful day, Sept. 11, in New York. At least it started that way. And Oliver Stone tells us about that day through the eyes of two men: Port Authority Police Sgt. John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Police Officer Will Jimeno (Michael Peña, who broke through in the Oscar-winning "Crash").

We don't see the planes hit the towers, because these men didn't. Instead, we see what they saw -- a shadow of a plane, flying much too low. McLoughlin and Jimeno are first responders. They enter, and one of the burning towers implodes. Stone renders this with masterful filmmaking.

The rest of film -- and that's most of the film -- alternates between Cage and Peña, buried under 20 feet of rubble, trying to stay awake and alive, with their wives and family waiting.

Jimeno's wife (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is five months pregnant. McLoughlin's wife (Maria Bello) sniffs a bedroom pillow, longing for a shred of good news, and that's just one incredible moment in a film filled with them.

And, finally, there is a rescue. "World Trade Center" is not about terrorism or evil. It is a film about heroism. It's about the best in all of us.

More full disclosure. I started crying 10 minutes into the movie. I started crying when I was writing this review. It is a tough movie. You are going to cry, but I urge you to see it. And when was the last time you saw or read something that made you feel positive about the human race? Grade: A