But hold on…Mr. Manhattan (i.e., a guy I know and trust) has also seen World Trade Center and he’s not doing cartwheels like Friedman is.
“It’s easily the most traditionally-shot film Stone has made in some time…no insane jump-cut editing, no bleached film stock,” he begins. “But it’s dull. The basic problem is that the two protagonists — Port Authority policemen trapped in the rubble of the fallen towers — are immobile for most of the film, which isn’t exactly cinematic.
“Stone manages to give a fair sense of their terror and claustrophia, but he’s also decided to make the middle of the film very schematic, cutting back and forth between the buried cops talking to each other, and then to their desperate families trying to get news of their whereabouts. It’s not that intrinsically interesting, and borders on outright soap at times.
“The film only really picks up in the last third, with the rescue efforts, which are pretty detailed and excruciating. There’s also an interesting subplot about an office worker in Connecticut, a former Marine, who puts on his military duds, bluffs his way onto Ground Zero, and is instrumental in rescuing the cops.
“But there are also some unintentional howlers. A short sequence in which one of the parched officers hallucinates Jesus offering him a bottle of water will definitely elicit embarrassed laughter from any audience.
“And a very minor subplot about some Wisconsin firefighters who volunteer their services has you wondering: why these guys? Hundreds of rescue workers came from all over the country. Why pick these guys if they didn’t do anything special? (The only thing they’re shown doing is handing out bratwurst to the rescue workers.)
“The film is sincerely made, well acted, and there’s definitely some emotional catharsis at the end, but Greengrass’ United 93 is far, far better, for, I think, two reasons: the semi-doc style makes it very immediate; and most of United 93 is about how a variety of people and agencies reacted to the day’s events. This macro view seems to checkmate World Trade Center‘s micro viewpoint at every turn.