'World Trade Center' a Really Good TV Movie

"World Trade Center" is not what moviegoers have come to expect from Oliver Stone and, in this case, that's a very good thing.

Nearly five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the film, starring Nicolas Cage as New York City Port Authority Police Sergeant John McLoughlin, opens still-unhealed wounds from that fateful day.

But Stone treats the subject matter with kid gloves, careful to avoid the political statements he's become known for in films like "Born on the Fourth of July" and "JFK."

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Instead, "World Trade Center" is a film about hope, and the lengths to which your fellow Americans would go to help you in your time of need.

McLoughlin and rookie cop Will Jimeno, played by Michael Pena, become trapped in an elevator shaft about 20 feet below Ground Zero when the World Trade Center's Tower One comes down on top of them.

Each of the men is bleeding internally and time is working against them.

Jimeno's partner, Dom Pezzulo, is crushed to death as he tries to free Jimeno from the debris.

As flames ignite and rubble continues to fill the space around them, the two keep each other alive by simply talking to one another about their families — families who are above ground.

As each man drifts in and out of consciousness, their lives flash before their eyes in the form of conversations with their wives and children and a brightly lit Jesus offering a bottle of water.

At times this film comes dangerously close to self-parody, but luckily those moments are fleeting as news footage from that day reminds the audience that this really happened.

Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Allison Jimeno, a five-months pregnant mother of 4-year-old Bianca, and Maria Bello ("A History of Violence") plays Donna McLoughlin, a mother of four.

Each of these women is inundated with family and close friends as they wait for news of their loved ones.

Bello's Donna wears blue contact lenses that make her appear emotionless — which is appropriate as one of her sons accuses her of not caring enough for their father.

The lenses, which I hope were a character choice and not simply to make her eyes blue, make it very difficult for the audience to see her pain.

Bello, for all of her beauty, appears cold, even when she finally breaks down in the arms of a stranger.

But these are minor flaws in an otherwise really good made-for-TV movie, and that would be my advice on where to see this film.

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