Paramount Pictures, 2006, Directed by Oliver Stone.  Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena

This is an excellent movie.  Not at all the usual Oliver Stone movie.  No conspiracy theories, no politics, just the story of regular folks caught in the midst of a huge event and their heroic responses to the situation.  The acting is quite good in this movie.  Nicolas Cage plays Sgt. McLouglin.  This is not your typical Cage role, in fact, soon you do forget the familiar actor and see only the character.  Michael Pena really does steal the show in his portrayal of Officer Will Jimeno.  Michael Shannon is not far behind in his steely characterization of Marine David Karnes.

It is the story of a group of Port Authority Police officers attempting to rescue folks from the World Trade Center on 9/11 who end up getting caught themselves in the rubble when the towers collapse. Of their group, only Sgt. McLoughlin and officer Will Jimeno survive the downing of the two towers but find themselves caught, injured, and buried in the rubble for 10 hours before they get the attention of two marines searching the rubble for survivors.  It takes another 12 hours for rescue crews to free them and get them out.  It is a moment of triumph for everyone involved.

The movie shows the families waiting for word about their loved ones and thinking about their relationships and how it all could be so much better if they only had a second chance. It is thoughts about their families that give Sgt. McLoughlin and Officer Jimeno the reasons to keep on living, and their faith in God that strengthens them.  In their darkest and most discouraging moments they are heard citing Psalms and the Lords Prayer.  At one defining moment when life seems to be slipping away, Officer Jimeno has a vision of Jesus Christ offering him a drink of water.  It encourages Will and brings him back from the brink of death, then he begins to keep  Sgt. McLoughlin awake, and challenges him to keep on hoping.

Faith also plays a role in the story of the rescuers.  Dave Karnes, a former Marine, meets with his pastor and tells him that he believes that God has called him to respond.  The scene shows a Bible turned to the Book of Revelation.  He puts on his old Marine fatigues, heads for New York, and joins another Marine searching the rubble for survivors.  He eventually finds McLoughlin and Jimeno, and sets their rescue in motion.  He shouts down to them:  “No, we are not going to leave ya!, we’re Marines–you are our mission!”  When they are finally pulled out of the rubble by hundreds of rescuers that are risking their own lives to save the two, it is a moment of faith, love, will & American character triumphing over incredible evil.  It is a time of celebration for everyone involved– McLoughlin & Jimeno, their families, the two Marines that found them, and the hundreds of folks involved in their rescue, with the back drop of immense disaster and death, in the middle of the rubble of what was the World Trade Center.

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