"I had expected to find the annihilating economy of [9/11] ... being explored, made legible. On the contrary, I found what had happened was being processed, obscured, systematically leached of history and so of meaning ... As if overnight, the irreconcilable event had been made manageable, reduced to the sentimental, to protective talismans, totems, garlands of garlic, repeated pieties that would come to seem in some ways as destructive as the event itself. We now had 'the loved ones,' we had 'the families,' we had 'the heroes.'"

-- Joan Didion, Fixed Ideas: American After 9/11

Oliver Stone's World Trade Center is well-made and well-intentioned. It is the story of two Port Authority Policemen who went, as part of a band of brothers, down to the World Trade Center the morning of 9/11 to help rescue survivors. Wounded and trapped when the buildings collapsed, officers John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Peña) tried to keep each other conscious and alert in the hope that someone, anyone, might be able to find them.

Stone's film -- and Andrea Berloff's script -- work with Jimeno and McLoughlin's real-life stories, and an opening title explains how the film is taken from the stories and recollections of surviving participants. In other words, this is not the crazy, careening, wild-eyed Stone of JFK attempting to re-write history. Stone's approach here has the careful, measured step of an altar boy bringing the Body of Christ up to the priest, terrified he might trip on his vestments. And films about the events of 9/11 certainly don't need the flash and dazzle of invented conspiracy; the question is if they one day might be offered the cool, considered illumination of reality.

categories Reviews, Cinematical