World Trade Center yields lovely and touching moments but proves a slow-going, arduous movie experience, if more uplifting than Universal’s earlier test of that historic day’s box office potential, United 93 ,” says Variety‘s Brian Lowryin his 7.31 review .
“Stone’s film bears some thematic resemblance to Alive , Frank Marshall‘s 1993 chronicle of a plane crash in the Andes. Both offer a tribute to human endurance under unimaginable conditions, but watching young guys huddle together trying not to freeze to death or two cops pinned under tons of debris isn’t exactly a cinematic thrill ride. Long stretches are shot in tight close-up on John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage ) and more personable Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) lying immersed in gray muck, seeking to stay alive.
“While both actors deliver strong performances, they are confined by the narrative figuratively as well as literally, spurring a degree of impatience for the climax. Yet the film ultimately present[s] an inspiring vision of can-do American spirit amid adversity, exemplified by [Connecticut rescuer Dave] Karnes and the rescue workers (played by, among others, Stephen Dorff and Frank Whaley) risking life and limb to assist complete strangers.”