Will and John
World Trade Center
Review by Ross Anthony

I knew very little about this film before screening. Of course, the title itself is loaded with all kinds of thoughts, emotions, recollections. And with Oliver Stone and Nicolas Cage as major players I was skeptical, admittedly -- it just didn’t seem right to have such a monumental recent tragedy “Hollywoodized.”

But, I was skeptical of United 93 and that turned out to be a very responsibly made, powerful motion picture. So then, my expectations became neutral.

World Trade Center opens with great breadth, and promise. It starts out with a wide perspective. It even includes reactions shots of people in countries all around the world. They were appalled, shocked, sympathetic at the tragic loss taken by the USA. But soon enough the film narrows to a smaller story of two men caught in the rubble and the trials of their respective families in the waiting.

While this is a fantastic story, a wonderful story, one that should be told, I feel that the opening of the film and in fact the title itself subtract from the power of the storytelling here. Perhaps the story would have been better sewn by limiting the cameras perspective to that of these two brave men. Stone seems to have overstepped a bit with the large opening and the bold brash title. And while Cage is a fine enough actor (and Bello too), I think, given the events, lesser known actors would have made a better cast. Any hint of Hollywood feels wrong – and there were several hints.

As it turns out, this is not really the story of the World Trade Center. This is the story of Will and John. I think the later would make a far more appropriate title. That said, there is still some beautiful filmmaking here. There are some very moving moments – I cried. And there is some very good acting.

It’s also important to know that this is a story of hope – a tale of something beautiful in the midst of catastrophe. Only twenty survivors were pulled from the wreckage that day – this is the story of numbers 18 and 19.

Survivor Will Jimeno has said that “Oliver did it right,” and that the picture, “Leaves you with faith, hope and, the greatest of all, love.”

(As a writer myself, I was moved to put down in words some thoughts sent spinning by those events on that Sept. 11th. They were written in the form of a short 30 page screenplay I titled In the Dark. I posted it years ago with my other essays. My piece also focuses on innocents caught in the rubble, though my characters are completely fictionalized.)

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  • World Trade Center. Copyright © 2006.
  • Starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Stephen Dorff, Jay Hernandez, Michael Shannon.
  • Directed by Oliver Stone.
  • Screenplay by Andrea Berloff.
  • Produced by Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Moritz Borman, Debra Hill at Paramount.

Grade..........................B (2/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:50:13 PDT