Nicolas Cage in: World Trade Center

World Trade Center

Released in 2006 ▪ Review posted October 16, 2013

“You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Joseph N. Welch

This was a rough one.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I never wanted to watch this movie, but it was on the list. I’ve seen it now. I’ve jumped that hurdle. As much as I tried to prepare, I was still shocked and saddened. It was like spending two hours inside Rick Perry’s head. This is the most needlessly exploitive thing I have ever seen in my life. This is a money-making sadness machine that forces audiences to relive a national trauma way too soon. What if they made that terrible Pearl Harbor movie just after the actual attack on Pearl Harbor? Who knows, I guess. Anything flies nowadays as long as it makes money, and did World Trade Center ever make money.

Five years after 9/11. Five fucking years. George W. Bush was still president. Saddam Hussein and the Crocodile Hunter were both still alive. The wounds from 9/11 were fresh. A fear not seen since McCarthy was overtaking America. And Oliver Stone found a way to make some money off of it. The sack of shit.

Let’s look at some numbers. The budget of this film was $65 million. The final box office take was $163 million. That leaves almost $100 million that just…went into the pockets of some executives or something.

How about some more numbers? Ninety-eight FDNY vehicles were destroyed on 9/11. Assuming a fire truck costs around $30,000, the box office gross from this movie could have bought back every single lost FDNY vehicle and sent millions of dollars to charities with plenty left over to pay back the studio for its budget.

But that didn’t happen.

After some pretty extensive searching, this was the only charitable effort coming from this movie that I could find. For those of you too lazy to click, the first sentence says it all: “Director Oliver Stone will donate 10 percent of new movie World Trade Center’s first five-day profits to 9/11 charities.” That’s the Hollywood equivalent of scattering some change on the sidewalk near a hobo but not quite in his hat. That’s horrible. Really bad. Am I the only one outraged by this? The New York Times was quite forgiving in its review, though it does acknowledge that “the quandary that Paramount executives face is a familiar one now, a few months after Universal’s United 93 became the first 9/11 movie to enter wide theatrical release: How do you market a movie like this without offending audiences or violating the film’s intentions? … Paramount, naturally, wants as wide an audience as possible for this film.” Of course they do. Because of fucking money. Which they kept. If you have to ask yourself how you can still make money off of a movie based on a very recent tragedy without offending anyone in the process then you should just start punching yourself in the genitals until you are unable to breed.

The same article also quotes Oliver Stone as saying, “This is not a political film. That’s the mantra they handed me.” Wow. Just fucking wow. “That’s the mantra they handed me.” Who are “they,” Oliver, you spineless fuck? I’ll tell you who. They’re the people who sign your paychecks.

Fuck you, Oliver Stone.

Fuck you, Michael Shannon, you’re better than this. And for that matter, fuck you, Maria Bello, and fuck even you, Nicolas Cage. What thirty pieces of silver did you tuck away only not to pay taxes on later? World Trade Center is in worse taste than when Roseanne sang the national anthem. Everyone involved, Mr. Stone included, claims the film was made to honor the victims and celebrate the courage of the survivors of 9/11, but that is complete bullshit, because it was done for money. They waited until just enough time had passed to get away with it. They bought the life rights for pennies in Hollywood money, but everything to a blue-collar family with medical bills waiting for relief funds to come their way. Who would say no?

I’d like to send a special “fuck you” to Maggie Gyllenhaal at this time. Not only did she also accept gobs of money for this movie, but a year before making it (and four years after 9/11), she blithely wandered down a red carpet and spat out this gem about how America might have brought the tragedy on itself. She’s so disconnected from reality that she doesn’t understand that, although it is a point worth debating, a red carpet interview will never be the fucking time or the fucking place, and she will never be the right fucking person to bring it up. I just can’t with this movie. And we haven’t even gotten into the acting yet.

Nic Cage, according to IMDB, focused on accurately speaking with a New York accent. It couldn’t have been a very intense focus because he sounds idiotic. But what does it matter? Nic spends the majority of the movie in critical condition trapped underneath a collapsed skyscraper. He mostly just groans and occasionally says a comforting thing to another person trapped near him.

Nic also spent hours in a sensory deprivation chamber to recreate the experience of being trapped under a collapsed skyscraper. Yes, you read that right. To Nic Cage, spending hours floating in highly salted water is the same as being trapped under a collapsed skyscraper. That’s insane.

World Trade Center isn’t even redeeming in the way where, even though its subject matter is tasteless, many parts of it are interesting and well done. (We’ll get into 8mm later in this project, don’t you worry about that.) It’s also, beyond all the political bullshit, a terrible movie. The characters aren’t well established enough to care about. Everyone is two-dimensional. The whole breadth of the horror of 9/11 is reduced into this horrid, putrid, hunk of dog shit of a movie.

It’s like some sort of demented Moulin Rouge. Remember how Baz Luhrmann always reminds you how you’re supposed to feel during his films by eschewing good filmmaking and inserting a hit pop song with a pre-established emotion associated with it? World Trade Center does the same thing but by beating you around the head and face with your memories of 9/11. Whenever the horribleness of this movie makes your mind start wandering, the movie goes out of its way to say, “Remember this is more than a movie, because…9/11.” The emotions of anyone who remembers watching 9/11 happen in person or on TV isn’t just used as fodder for drama, it’s used as a weapon, reminding everyone that anything they have to say that’s negative is negative about 9/11.

The whole damn thing just makes me sad. Really sad. I don’t know what else there is to say here. This is the only movie I’ve ever seen that I wish could be unmade, or that I could at least unsee. That’s good news for Season of the Witch I suppose.

But seriously, for the sake of your children and their children, don’t sit them down in front of this movie and show it as an example of what happened. Instead, talk to them about love and acceptance and caring for your fellow humans. Show them, through words and actions, how reasonable adults resolve conflict. Become the living example of never forgetting that this movie struggles and fails to represent.

How was the movie?
Fuck this movie
How was Nic Cage’s acting?
God damn it
Did his performance make the movie worse?
Who cares? There’s a KFC in Baghdad now, what’s done is done