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Steering clear of controversy and conspiracy theory, director Oliver Stone chillingly recreates the events of 9-11, but from the perspective of two Port Authority cops (based on their true story). When the first tower is hit, police sergeant Nicolas Cage and his men attempt a rescue mission, but the structure collapses on top of them, leaving only Cage and Michael Peña alive and trapped in the rubble.
Their wives (Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal, respectively) and families anxiously await news as workers risk their lives to find survivors at Ground Zero. This well-crafted World captures the panic and confusion surrounding the tragedy and serves as a worthy tribute to the heroes of that day. But it's not the devastating, gut-wrenching experience you might expect--or the catharsis you might want. With its Hollywood-ized (read: sentimentalized) look and feel and a script that plods along in places, Stone's safe Center is just a fine film--instead of a great one.
--Matt Stevens