How do you just crash a plane into one of the largest buildings in New York City?
Director: Martin Guigui
Cast: Charlie Sheen, Gina Gershon, Luis Guzman, Wood Harris, Olga Fonda and Whoopie Goldberg
One from my YouTube ‘to watch’ list, I can’t recall going into a film recently with as much of a pessimistic view. Now I’ve got nothing against them personally, but realistically if you were going to cast a movie about arguably the best known terrorist attack of the 21st century, Charlie Sheen and Whoopie Goldberg wouldn’t be the first to spring to mind.
Obviously Sheen has had his issues over the last ten years so I hope he knocks it out of the park. He was a great actor in the late 80s/early 90s, but it has been a long time since I’ve seen him in a dramatic role and I’m not convinced he is still capable. Again, I hope I am wrong.
So let’s get this out of the way.
It is September 11th 2011 and the workers of the World Trade Centre turn up to work as normal. The day seems to be going as normal as Jeffrey (Sheen) enters an elevator with his estranged wife Eve. (Gershon) following a divorce meeting. A loud bang is heard and the elevators go offline as a plane hits the building.
The five trapped in the elevator discuss a variety of topics whilst waiting for rescue, but they are soon told that the reason for the issues is that the aforementioned plane crashing. As the situation becomes more desperate due to the elevator filling with smoke, the group know that they don’t have long left to escape.
Then the second plane hits….
As bad as I was expecting?
To be fair to the film it was slightly better than I was expecting for the simple reason that when it focuses on the reactions of friends and family watching on TV, you actually feel gripped and in the moment. Sheen and Goldberg are definitely not as bad as I thought they would be, but the problem with the film is that it made me uncomfortable for large sections.
For example, there is a scene in which Michael starts making heavily racist comments about Asians for no reason whatsoever. Even in the context of the film, there isn’t really a place for it in this type of film because it lacks any substance. What is even more unbelievable is that a few minutes later Jeffrey offers him a job by saying “Have you ever heard the one about the billionaire offers a job to a bicycle courier” (or something to that effect) and it feels so forced and the screenplay is quite week.
Throughout the movie, specifically, after the first plane crashes into the tower, there is misplaced attempts at comedy. Now, I will caveat that by saying that it doesn’t try to be an outright comedy, it is a serious film and as I say, when it is being serious it works to some expect, but the jokes that are made just don’t hit home at all.
The characters are inconsistent and in the space of fewer than 90 minutes Jeffrey and Eve go from on the verge of a divorce, right through to Eve outright loving Jeffrey again. It is predictable in that sense and I found it hard to enjoy. This also isn’t helped by following five people being stuck in an elevator, but none of them seems to move into a secondary characteristic.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is far from an awful film, sometimes even a bit poignant, and with a bit more care it could have actually been decent, but there is definitely a sense that with a different cast (and again that is not an anti-Sheen or Goldberg thing) and a more serious screenplay then it might have hit home a bit more, rather than coming across as more of an exploitative piece that tries to draw you in based on the connecting events.
9/11 is certainly not as bad as I was expecting, which to be fair was a pretty low bar in the first place. The film doesn’t warrant major criticism and to be fair, I do feel a bit guilty for not giving it more praise, but there are just a few too many faults for me to even consider giving it an approved stamp.
Misplaced jokes and completely random racism just feel completely inappropriate.
There are far worse films out there focusing on terrorism-related tragedies, but there are definitely many that are a lot better.