Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer
What kind of world would you create? Answer
What is the Christian perspective on war? Answer
Movie review: United 93
|Featuring||Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña (Michael Pena), Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Brad William Henke, Patti D’Arbanville|
|Producer||Moritz Borman, Chantal Feghali, Norman Golightly, Debra Hill, Donald J. Lee Jr., Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Oliver Stone|
“The world saw evil that day. Two men saw something else.”
My original review starts farther down the page. As I prepared my final draft this morning, my computer prompted me with several dire news alerts that sends chills up my spine!
Just a month away from our 9/11 anniversary and as “World Trade Center” readies for it’s first weekend release, the phantoms of terror-past prepared to reach our shores once again!
8-10-06 NEWS FLASH
“Footprint to al-Qaida”
LONDON Aug. 10: London’s anti-terrorist police say they foiled a plot to blow up airliners traveling to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in hand luggage prompting intense security measures at Heathrow airport.
A senior U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said British and U.S. authorities believe dozens of people—possibly as many as 50—were involved in a plot to blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S., from Heathrow Airport, which “had a footprint to al-Qaida back to it.”
“We believe that these arrests (in London) have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted,” said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
In London, Britain’s Home Secretary John Reid said the alleged plot was “significant” and that terrorists aimed to “bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life.”
WASHINGTON Aug. 10, 2006: The administration raised the threat level for flights from Britain to “red,” designating a severe risk of terrorist attacks. All other flights, including all domestic flights in the United States, were put under an “orange,” alert—one step below the highest level.
Chertoff said the alleged plot appeared to be engineered by al-Qaida, the terrorist group that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attack against the United States.
More from a counterterrorism official familiar with the plan to blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S.:
The national threat level in Britain was raised to critical today—a warning level that indicates the likelihood of an imminent terrorist attack. The threat rating was posted on the Web site of Britain’s MI5—the British domestic spy agency.
The Homeland Security Department devised the red alert system after the Sept. 11 attacks. The last time the U.S. government raised the terrorist risk here to orange, or high, was in July 2005 after the subway bombings in London. It was lowered to yellow a month later, the elevated risk status that has been the norm since the system was created.
Make no mistake and assume that the terrorists were happy with their results on September 11, 2001—they are out there still and wish more harm. May we all pray for our world today. Continue in prayers for peace. Never forget the harsh reality of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Every prayer list should have uppermost, the call for more Christians who won’t compromise, but who keep their convictions—God’s convictions—to care for one another, for our Country and humankind.
If anything, “World Trade Center” embodies the call to stand in the gap for a fellow human being. No matter what race or belief. Men and women not just in New York, but across our Nation and the world came together to help in every way imaginable the day the Towers fell.
PAPD cops reported that racial and ethnic differences melted away during the crisis. People fell into only two categories on September 11: those who needed help and those who offered it.
“World Trade Center” is based on the true life account of Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin, two Port Authority police officers who rushed into the burning World Trade Center on 9/11 to help rescue people, but became trapped themselves when the tower collapsed. A race against time ensued to find them and free them before their time ran out.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Sgt. John McLoughlin (an intense portrayal by Nicolas Cage) started his day early, before sunup, as all work days before this. His two hour drive into New York made his days long and his time away from his wife and four kids unavoidable.
William Jimeno (a totally believable Michael Peña), just nine months on the force, excitedly looked forward to any assignment. He had dreamed since childhood of being a policeman and serving the city of New York. When asked to volunteer to save lives after the Towers were hit, he was the first to step forward.
Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon) was not intending to be anywhere but at his job in Connecticut that morning, especially not New York, but God had different plans for this devoutly Christian ex-marine on 9/11.
These three lives came together in a miraculous way within the first 22 hours after the attack on the World Trade Center Towers.
When Tower One was first hit that morning, McLoughlin was actually nowhere near the World Trade Center. He was a few miles north, on duty at the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan. But like so many others, he and a busload of New York Policemen headed downtown to try to save lives.
After arriving at the scene, and unaware that both towers had now been hit, McLoughlin assembled a team of Port Authority officers: Antonio Rodrigues, Chris Amoroso, Dominick Pezullo, and a rookie named Will Jimeno.
There was no plan in place for a crisis this size. Even though McLoughlin was chosen because of his experience with the 1993 terrorist attacks on the WTC, this scope was too big for anyone to comprehend. Into the war zone that was the twin towers, laden with protective gear, went just these four brave men and their “Sarge” John McLoughlin.
Within minutes of entering the ground floor ready to evacuate hundreds, if not thousands, of people already injured or trapped, Tower Two collapsed around them.
Officers Amoroso and Rodrigues were killed immediately. McLoughlin and the other two men were trapped. But remarkably, one of them, Pezullo (Jay Hernandez), managed to dig himself out. He was trying to rescue his colleagues when there was another explosion. It was Tower One coming down. And Pezullo, who’d gotten free, was struck by a piece of concrete and killed. He fell near Jimeno, who talked to him before he died.
“He had just said that, ‘Remember, I tried to get you guys out,’” recalls Jimeno.
Will Jimeno and Sgt. John McLoughlin, were the only ones of their group left alive (the last two to be rescued of only 19 people), buried in the center of the World Trade Center ruins, 30 feet below the surface. No water, unable to move, all contact through radio cut off, they presumed—waiting to die. Trying hard to bolster the other by talking about their families and hopes, keeping each other awake—hoping, praying to be found.
“It was just me and the sarge,” adds Jimeno, who remembers their determination to survive, and the pain of their lower bodies being crushed by the enormous weight.
Dave Karnes arrived dressed in his marine gear and ready to save lives, to do anything he could.
Building seven collapsed not long after he arrived. A marine standing close by made a comment about the dense smoke all around them, choking off the light of day. Karnes knew why and told the marine in no uncertain terms, “God made a curtain with the smoke—to shield us from what we’re not yet ready to see.”
It was now about 7 p.m., and Jimeno and McLoughlin had been trapped for roughly nine hours.
Karnes met up with a fellow marine named Thomas and they spent nearly an hour covering the smoke filled debris shouting, “United States Marines, if you can hear us, yell or tap!”
By 8 p.m.,Jimeno and McLoughlin had been buried more than 10 hours. That was when Jimeno heard voices. “It was two Marine reservists, and I begged them not to leave us,” says Jimeno. He heard Dave Karnes’ voice reassure them, “No, we’re not leavin’ ya! We’re Marines—you’re our mission!…”
“And soon after that, you know, the cavalry came,” remembers Jimeno.
We all already know the outline to this story. September 11 is still imbedded in our collective consciences. The Towers themselves hold thousands of different stories that can be told or fictionalized. As a “Titanic”-like opportunity for story after story to be gleaned for any and all play write or script writer for years to come. But, it’s the real stories that grip us the most. The true tales of people who are not famous, people just like us, who go to work each day to feed our families, have children, problems, personal joys, paychecks, bills and lives that are to the rest of the world, unremarkable.
“World Trade Center” is rife with actual footage of that day, which heightens the reality factor. The rescue is so authentic, you feel you are right there with the characters. It puts the audience in the middle of the turmoil, fear and pressures of the McLoughlin and Jimeno families caught in the grip of overwhelming uncertainty and sorrow.
From the Web site:
Stone never saw “World Trade Center” as a political film, but as an intensely human story. “Although my politics and John and Will’s may be different, it didn’t matter; we all got along. I can make a movie about them and their experiences because they went through something that I can understand. Politics does not enter into it—it’s about courage and survival.”
“If you watch “Platoon” or “Born on the Fourth of July”, you know that Oliver understands men in groups trying to give their best and serve their country,” says Producer Michael Shamberg. “Initially, I saw this film as the biggest canvas we could work on because everyone has an emotional connection to this material—everyone remembers that day. But Oliver sees it as a small, intimate story, which is a fascinating take on the material and completely correct. In looking at the story of John and Will that way, it isn’t a flat retelling of 9/11; the film, for me, weaves reality with spirituality.”
“Two men in that hole, in the darkest hours of their lives, hardly knowing each other, bonded together through the fire of their experience,” says Stone. “On a day when we came so close to losing faith in humanity, they helped give that faith back to us.”
McLoughlin and Jimeno consider these men the real heroes of their story:
“The rescue workers who came in after us and risked their lives to get Will and me out, these are all people who have families of their own,” says McLoughlin. “Will and I had to face death, but we didn’t have a choice; it was thrust upon us. These men knowingly faced death, crawling over that rubble pile, crawling into that hole that held us, when a shift of that debris field would have crushed them. They displayed incredible courage, risking their lives just to get two guys out.”
The first men to find McLoughlin and Jimeno were two errant Marines. Staff Sergeant Dave Karnes, in particular, was on a true mission. At the time, Karnes was an accountant; on 9/11, like so many others, he watched the World Trade Center tragedy unfold on television. Karnes, a deeply religious man, felt a personal calling to help and saw this as a mission given him by his God. He returned to full Marine mode, stopping at a barbershop to have his hair buzzcut, donning his fatigues, and racing to Ground Zero. Though police and National Guard had erected barricades barring people from getting close to the disaster, the steely Marine, without official permission, made his way through regardless. As the night closed out official rescue efforts, Karnes, in an extraordinary effort, got himself, with help from another mysterious Marine (named Thomas), into the treacherous rubble pile and began searching for survivors. Against all odds, they located McLoughlin and Jimeno.”
As rescue workers Strauss, McGee, and Sereika struggled to free Jimeno, firemen attempted to contain the flames beneath them. One of them, Tommy Asher, played himself in the film and recreated a particularly vexing problem: the serrated debris kept perforating the hoses, cutting off the water supply.
After close to 12 hours and the tireless efforts of a crew of firemen, cops, and ESU workers, both Jimeno and McLoughlin were pulled out of the pile. One of the real firemen integrally involved in McLoughlin’s rescue, Scott Fox, also plays himself.
In all, over 50 real-life PAPD, NYPD, and FDNY members who were at Ground Zero came to Los Angeles to appear in the film. In the end, all the prominent police and fireman extras in the film would be played by these real-life heroes.
There are sparse profanities uttered, I counted only five in all. Not too bad for a film full of New York Policemen and Marines. Rated PG-13 is right for intense, and graphic peril and violence, terrorist attacks, suicide, including deaths.
What impressed me was that the references to faith and to Jesus Himself which out shown any bad language I heard. And, since these events depicted are from real life, it shows me that we are genuinely “prayers” more than “cussers” (unlike what some Hollywood films would like you to believe).
Will Jimeno had visions of Jesus handing them water, and I commend Oliver Stone for showing that matter-of-factly, just as Will described it. When the pain and fear was too much for these men, they did not swear at The Almighty, but instead screamed the 23rd Psalm. Dave Karnes was shown in a church discussing with his pastor the reasons he had to go to New York, the cross of Jesus clearly shown as a source of strength and not one of scorn. He incontestably said he was compelled to go by God, and His voice was the only voice he would answer to. Bravo to Dave Karnes and to Oliver Stone for not shrinking from this very pivotal fact and the truth of this story!
Here lies the power in Oliver Stone’s vision. No pretenses. It is not too soon. It is what we need. We must accept and relate to this film. We need it now more than ever, in light of current world events. We must dig deep for the passions that filled us on September 11, 2001. We must get back the fierce bravery we embraced when terrorists struck our shores and fight back again! And keep fighting back, for our country and all those oppressed by the bullies of this world!
Franklin Graham describes that day in his book The Name, as such:
“The extent of the devastation was greater than the loss at Pearl Harbor. I knew the nation would soon be at war against evil. Not that we would do so to seek revenge, but to defend our very way of life. For too long Americans had seemed immune while France, Israel, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, and Great Britain experienced terrorism. Now our own shores had been attacked in an attempt to destroy the heart of what our nation represents: economic, personal, and—above all—religious freedom.
Considering our opponents—individuals said to represent Islam—I knew a war driven by religious passions would not be as quick and direct as the Gulf War. I knew that this cowardly attack had at its heart spiritual implications that would take this nation months, if not years, to understand. This war was really just another in a long history of battles related to the name of The Lord Jesus Christ.”
“We live in a world filled with evil and contaminated by sin. Although we are shocked by tragedies, despicable and heinous acts should not surprise us as much as they do. Without the redeeming power of God, the human heart is a sewer of sinful desires and schemes. As Jesus once said, “A good man out of the good treasures of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”
As scripture teaches, God can take the most difficult trials in life and use them for good. The terrorists struck at America on behalf of their ‘god.’ They had intended evil. But God Almighty used this tragic event to send healing and comfort through the good News of His Son throughout the world.”
—Graham acknowledging Almighty God, Memorial Service, Washington, D.C., 10 a.m., September 14, 2001
From The US Department of State, Victims and Heros of September 11 Web site:
“September 11 created a new generation of heroes for America and the world. They came from diverse cultures, and many from faraway lands, but on September 11—whether they perished in the attacks or bore witness—all were victims and each was a hero. From Pakistan, India, China and Nigeria, their stories are remarkably the same. A human being, not a nationality, saw strangers in need, and in many cases risked—and gave—their own life in order to save another. The global heroes of September 11 spoke different languages, but shared a common humanity.
An estimated 2,830 people died or are missing in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center. Ninety-eight percent of those victims were at work, and the youngest was only 2 ½ years old. One in six—494—are reportedly either foreigners or Americans with dual citizenship, hailing from more than 90 countries. In the attack on the Pentagon, 189 were killed, and in a field in Pennsylvania, another 45 died when their plane plummeted to Earth due to the efforts of a small group of heroes who wanted to avert another crash into a building full of people.
Whether they were in New York, Virginia or Pennsylvania, the victims and heroes of September 11 represent the diversity that is America and the world.”
Go out, see “World Trade Center” more than once. Show your support. Get copies of this film to share with children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, so they will never forget 9/11… never forget… Never Forget!
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.