These characterizations propel the film into something much richer than it might otherwise have been. It’s an American story about pulling together, helping each other through a crisis and, crucially, responding to a divine sense of calling – both vocationally and through immediate experience – even at the risk of our own lives. Central to the story is a former Marine (Michael Shannon), who, feeling a call by God, gets his hair cut, suits up in his fatigues, and heads to Ground Zero, determined to find survivors among the men who were trying to do their duty on that horrifying day.

Cage makes the most of a performance that consists of static shots of his pained visage. Even while trapped, he’s a team leader, encouraging his fellow officer to stay awake, to stay alive. But when prospects of McLoughlin’s survival dim further, it’s Pena who carries the film, with crucial support from Shannon.

Stone has shown admirable restraint in the visual presentation of the material here. Unlike the compelling but disorienting imagery of most of his films since "JFK", "World Trade Center" has a clean, straightforward visual grace, propelled by the cinematography of Seamus McGarvey. A stirring score from Craig Armstrong subtly but beautifully complements the imagery.

It’s a total package that honors a wounded nation and the spirit of its diverse people. Like the actions of so many on that day, and in the days that followed, "World Trade Center" is something to be proud of.

AUDIENCE:  Teens and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  Heavy profanity; Lord’s name taken in vain.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None.
  • Violence:  Some gunfire; threatening fires. A wounded officer appears ready to commit suicide, but does not follow through.
  • Religion:  A vision of Jesus; a man says he feels an immediate call of God to help the recovery efforts.