Who's in It:
Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Jay Hernandez, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Dorff
The Basics: Two New York police officers are stuck in the rubble of the decimated World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. It's a true story. But these men survived. Thousands of others didn't, but maybe it's necessary to pad the horror of that day with inspiration for as many years as it takes for people to deal with what happened then. I don't know.
What's the Deal? I'm not ready for 9/11 movies. I'm just not. I wasn't ready for United 93, and I'm not ready for this one. And I'm really not ready for an Oliver Stone 9/11 movie, because this director makes movies that feel like I'm being beaten into submission by the Thought Bully. But this one, as wrenching as it is to watch any sort of re-enactment, is not bad. It's big and obvious, like most Stone movies, but if it's catharsis you want, then this is where to get it.
A Complaint: It feels as though it happens in a vacuum. It's stripped down to the story of these two men. The rest of the carnage is mostly not seen. And that's smart, really, because you can't make a single movie about everything that happened that day. But still, the effect is of chaos and unimaginable terror being turned into easy, uplifting sentimentality.
Gauging the Annoyance Level of Nicolas Cage: He's the perfect Oliver Stone actor because he's a scene-eater. But weirdly enough, both the director and his actor have toned it down. So on a scale of one to 10, with one being minimalist understatement and 10 being Captain Corelli's Mandolin, this is a three.
Who's Awesome: Maria Bello, who should have been nominated for an Oscar last year for A History of Violence, delivers mounting anger and fear perfectly.