World Trade Center (film)

World Trade Center is a 2006 American survival drama film directed by Oliver Stone and based on the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center. It stars Nicolas Cage, Maria Bello, Michael Peña, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Dorff, and Michael Shannon. The film was shot between October 2005 and February 2006, and theatrically released in the United States on August 9, 2006. The film was met with generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $163 million worldwide.

World Trade Center
A silhouette of the Twin Tower buildings of the World Trade Center
Theatrical release poster
Directed byOliver Stone
Produced by
Written byAndrea Berloff
Music byCraig Armstrong
CinematographySeamus McGarvey
Edited by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 9, 2006 (2006-08-09)
Running time
129 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$65 million[2]
Box office$163.2 million[2]


On September 11, 2001, Port Authority Police Officers John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno are patrolling the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan when they see a plane fly dangerously low overhead. As all of the police return to the station, they see on TV that the North Tower of the World Trade Center has been hit by the plane. Sergeant McLoughlin assigns many of the officers to assist in a precautionary evacuation attempt of the North Tower and they board a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus. On the bus, they hear reports that the South Tower is also hit by another plane. When they arrive at the World Trade Center, they realize the extent of the disaster, and see one of the victims jump out of the towers to certain death. The men proceed to get safety equipment from Building 5 and enter the concourse between the towers.

The group consists of McLoughlin, Jimeno, Dominick Pezzulo, and Antonio Rodrigues. Officer Christopher Amoroso appears to inform them of other events, such as the American Airlines Flight 77 attack, the second plane's hit on the South Tower, and an attack on Israel, though the group does not accept any of these as true. As the men prepare to enter the North Tower, the buildings begin to rumble. McLoughlin realizes that the South Tower is collapsing onto them and that their only chance of survival is to run into the service elevator shaft. Amoroso trips and does not have time to get up, and Rodrigues is unable to get to the shaft in time, resulting in both deaths. McLoughlin, Jimeno, and Pezzulo manage to escape the huge amounts of dust and rubble flying down from the South Tower. However, as the rubble continues to crush the elevator shaft, the three are trapped. As the cascade of debris subsides, Pezzulo realizes he can free himself and manages to move closer to Jimeno in order to shift the debris covering his legs, but cannot make it to McLoughlin as he is trapped deeper in the rubble. Pezzulo tries but fails to shift the debris due to its weight, and is instructed by McLoughlin not to leave.

Shortly after word is known that a fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, has been hijacked and has crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

As Pezzulo becomes optimistic that they will live, the rumbling begins again as the North Tower starts to collapse. Although Jimeno and McLoughlin are not further harmed, Pezzulo is fatally injured when a concrete slab falls into the hole, crushing his torso. After he fires a gun through a gap in the rubble to try to alert rescuers to their position, he dies. Jimeno and McLoughlin spend hours under the rubble, in pain but exchanging stories about their lives and families. McLoughlin is particularly anxious to keep Jimeno from falling asleep and Jimeno also realizes that by straining to grab a metal bar above his body, he can make a noise that rescuers might hear. Two United States Marines, Dave Karnes and Jason Thomas, who are searching for survivors, do hear it and find the men, calling for help to dig them out. Jimeno is rescued first, and then hours later McLoughlin is lifted out of the debris, barely alive and in critical condition. They are then both reunited with their distraught families at the hospital. Two years after the attacks, McLoughlin and Jimeno attend a barbecue with their families: McLoughlin's wife Donna, Jimeno's wife Allison, daughter Bianca, and their newest addition Olivia.

The epilogue states that John and Will were 2 of the 20 people pulled out alive and are now retired from active duty. Dave Karnes re-enlisted in the Marines.



The Port Authority police officers portrayed by Cage and Peña, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, and their wives, played by Bello and Gyllenhaal, were involved with the writing and overall production. McLoughlin and Jimeno said they wanted to have a film made to honor their rescuers and comrades who died on September 11, not for personal gain.[citation needed]

McLoughlin's wife Donna has said: "We got involved because we felt it needed to be done accurately. We wanted to do the right thing and I think the filmmakers wanted to do the right thing too."[4] Both John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno appear at the end of the film during the barbecue scene.

The real ESU (Emergency Services Unit) police from New York who are depicted in the film—Scott Strauss and Paddy McGee—were on set as technical advisers. In addition, the firemen in the film were played by real FDNY members who served on 9/11. All of them enthusiastically supported the film and its intention to accurately portray the rescue of McLoughlin and Jimeno.

Jeanette Pezzulo, the widow of Port Authority police officer Dominick Pezzulo (who died in the attacks and is played by Jay Hernandez in the film), expressed anger with the film, criticizing McLoughlin's and Jimeno's participation in its production. She is quoted as saying, "My thing is: this man died for you. How do you do this to his family?"[4] Staten Island resident Jamie Amoroso, whose husband also died during the rescue operation, also expressed her anger over the film and said she did "not need a movie" to tell her "what a hero" her husband was.[4]

Many major American newspapers ran editorials accusing Stone of having his film examine 9/11 conspiracy theories because Stone was known for examining various conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination in JFK. However, Stone has stated that the film does not explore the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11. He, the producers, and the real McLoughlin and Jimeno, have said the film is a simple dedication to the heroism and sadness of the day with little-to-no political themes.[4][5][6]

The film has been accused of not providing a fair portrayal of the character and motives of rescuer Dave Karnes and paramedic Chuck Sereika. They did not participate in the making of the film and felt their roles of being the first rescuers to reach the trapped men did not receive enough screen time. Sereika began treating and extricating Jimeno a full 20 minutes before officers from the New York City Police Department's Emergency Services Unit arrived.[7]

Non-fictional charactersEdit

John McLoughlin graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego, where he was a member of the Sigma Tau Chi fraternity. He was rescued after 22 hours, the 19th of 20 people pulled out of the rubble alive. Doctors kept him in an induced coma for six weeks. He underwent 27 surgeries and spent nearly three months in the hospital and rehabilitation. Four months after their rescue, McLoughlin and Jimeno—who both have since retired—took part in a ceremony at Ground Zero to watch as the final column was removed. When all the uniformed officers walked out of The Pit, the last two were McLoughlin and Jimeno. On June 11, 2002, McLoughlin received the Port Authority's Medal of Honor.[8] He resided in Goshen, New York.

Will Jimeno was born on November 26, 1967 in Colombia but immigrated to New York City as a boy with his family. At the time of the attacks, he was a rookie cop assigned to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.[9] He was pulled out of the rubble after 13 hours, the 18th of 20 people pulled out alive. On June 11, 2002, Jimeno received the Port Authority's Medal of Honor.[9] Jimeno and McLoughlin make a cameo in the film.[10] On January 2, 2008, Jimeno appeared on the television game show Deal or No Deal and won $271,000.

Christopher Amoroso was born on June 1, 1972 and raised in North Bergen, New Jersey where he attended North Bergen High School.[11] Since 2010 the Chopper 2002 Foundation has presented their Annual Invitational Softball Tournament in North Bergen on the first weekend of June.

Dominick Pezzulo was born on August 15, 1965 in Italy to Dino and Victoria Pezzulo. He was named after his grandfather Domenico Pezzulo. Pezzulo taught auto repair, math and computer technology. After seven years as a teacher, Pezzulo became a police officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department 13 months before the attack. He was stationed at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. On September 9, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on September 11, 2001, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush.[12] At the National 9/11 Memorial, Pezzulo is memorialized at the South Pool, on Panel S-29.[13] In his birthplace of Giano Vetusto, Italy, a plaque has been erected on the door of the house he grew up in.[14]

David W. Karnes was born c. 1958 and spent 23 years in the Marine Corps infantry. He left his accounting office at Deloitte and Touche in Wilton, Connecticut on September 11, 2001 soon after witnessing the attacks on television to assist in the rescue efforts. Karnes spent nine days at the site before returning to his office. He then reenlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and went on to serve in the Philippines and Iraq. He served for 17 months, including two tours of duty in Iraq. Karnes did not cooperate in the making of Stone's World Trade Center movie due to Stone's antipathy towards U.S. President George W. Bush. Some critics took issue with the portrayal in the film. Rebecca Liss of Slate magazine observed, "The film seems to overplay his zeal without conveying his motivations and reasoning." It notes he is unfairly portrayed as "a robotic soldier of Christ—a little wacky and simplistic."[15]

Jason Thomas was born c. 1974 and was dropping his daughter off at the home of his mother on Long Island when she told him about the attacks. Despite having left active duty in August 2001, Thomas drove to Manhattan to assist in the rescue efforts,[16] telling the Associated Press: Someone needed help. It didn't matter who. I didn't even have a plan. But I have all this training as a Marine, and all I could think was, 'My city is in need.'"[16] As of 2013, Thomas is serving in the United States Air Force as a medical technician.[17] His portrayal by a white actor in the film generated controversy, although the producers claimed that they were unaware that the real Thomas was black until they had already started filming.[18][19] On February 11, 2007, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition aired a special two-hour episode about Thomas and his family. Following the attacks, Thomas and his wife had moved their four children from New York to Columbus, Ohio. The house they bought began to deteriorate and the show intervened to help them. On September 2, 2013, Channel 4 broadcast The Lost Hero of 9/11[20] which detailed Thomas involvement in the rescue operation following the collapse of both towers. As of 2018, Thomas was living in Columbus with his wife Kirsti and their children. He worked as an officer for the Ohio Supreme Court.[21][22] Thomas is in 15 Septembers Later which has appeared on the History Channel.[citation needed]


Box officeEdit

In its opening weekend, the film made $18.7 million in the U.S. and Canada. In total, the film grossed $70.3 million in North American, and $93 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $163.2 million.[2]

Critical response Edit

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 67% based on 232 reviews, and an average rating of 6.66/10. The website's critics consensus states: "As a visually stunning tribute to lives lost in tragedy, World Trade Center succeeds unequivocally, and it is more politically muted than many of Stone's other works."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[25]

The producers met with all relevant September 11 victims groups, before production began, to inform them of the intent. After its release, they, the NYPD, and the FDNY were very pleased with it. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Governor George Pataki, and then-Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, as well as representatives from the NY Port Authority, were at the premiere of the film at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan.

Home mediaEdit

The Region 1 DVD was released on December 12, 2006, with a Region 2 release following on January 29, 2007. A special 2-disc set was also released. A 3-disc deluxe edition was produced exclusively for Target stores. Although Paramount initially dropped its support of the Blu-ray format, it came to support Blu-ray again after HD DVD's demise. The film re-appeared on Blu-ray in May 2008.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "WORLD TRADE CENTER (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. August 14, 2006. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "World Trade Center". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Sharp, Rob (July 9, 2006). "A film too far for Stone?". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved July 19, 2006.
  5. ^ Mantel, John Marshall (November 2, 2005). "Oliver Stone shoots Sept. 11 movie in New York". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved July 22, 2006.
  6. ^ Halbfinger, David M. (July 2, 2006). "Oliver Stone's 'World Trade Center' Seeks Truth in the Rubble". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 22, 2006.
  7. ^ Liss, Rebecca (August 9, 2006). "Oliver Stone's World Trade Center Fiction". Slate. The Slate Group. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  8. ^ Dennis Cauchon and Martha T. Moor. He resides in Goshen, New York "Miracles emerge from debris". USA Today. September 6, 2002
  9. ^ a b "Miracles emerge from debris",, September 5, 2002; accessed August 28, 2015.
  10. ^ "Oliver Stone's World Trade Center Fiction". Slate. August 9, 2006. Archived from the original on August 28, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  11. ^ Alsbrook, Nina-Louise. "Christopher Amoroso, 29, Port Authority Police officer less than 2 years", Staten Island Advance, September 11, 2010. Accessed September 10, 2015. "Born on Long Island, Mr. Amoroso was raised in North Bergen, N.J. He graduated from North Bergen High School in 1990, and lived briefly in Bayonne, N.J, working six years for Consolidated Dairy."
  12. ^ "President Remembers 9/11 Heroes at Medal of Valor Award Ceremony". Press release of President George W. Bush's comments. September 5, 2005. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  13. ^ "South Pool: Panel S-29 - Dominick A. Pezzulo". National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  14. ^ "9-11 Victim Memorial: Dominick Pezzulo". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  15. ^ Liss, Rebecca. "How the 9/11 Rescue Really Happened". Slate magazine.
  16. ^ a b Caruso, David B (August 14, 2006). "Mystery 9/11 rescuer reveals himself". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on August 22, 2006.
  17. ^ "Time to get your flu shot". Retrieved January 8, 2018. Staff Sgt. Jason Thomas, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, administers a flu vaccine to Staff Sgt. Joshua McCrabb, 445th Security Forces Squadron craftsman, during the Oct. 13 unit training assembly for the 2012-13 flu season
  18. ^ Spencer, Lester (August 22, 2006). "Oliver Stone's 'Trade Center' Casting Recall". NPR. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  19. ^ "Mystery 9/11 rescuer reveals himself". Associated Press. August 15, 2006. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Feran, Tim (June 16, 2007). "Whitehall family opens home for tours after 'Extreme Makeover'". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  22. ^ Gant, Jenna (October 26, 2012). "9/11 Hero Speaks to Ohio's Law Enforcement Officers". Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  23. ^ "World Trade Center (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  24. ^ "World Trade Center Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  25. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "World Trade Center" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved July 26, 2020.


External linksEdit