Time Out says
For those viewers worried that the director of Natural Born Killers would turn this true-life 9/11 tale into a media-fried polemic, you may officially exhale now. Reverential to a fault, World Trade Center doesn’t seem like a “typical” Oliver Stone movie. There’s no political firebranding, no grand-mal-seizure editing and no cameos of mystic Indian shamans (that role is fulfilled by a fluorescent Jesus). Well aware that the subject matter can dredge up a torrent of conflicting feelings, Stone the provocateur sits this one out and lets Stone the straight-ahead dramatist do the job instead. If the filmmaker’s aim was simply to reduce a still-overwhelming tragedy into a self-contained human-interest story about two Port Authority officers (Cage, Pea) trapped beneath the rubble of Tower One, then mission accomplished.
But make no mistake: The only difference between this and the hackneyed TV movies that have covered the same ground is that World Trade Center has a bigger budget. The emotional string-pulling here is just as relentless and shameless as that of the film’s small-screen counterparts; from the slo-mo scenes scored with tinkling ivories to the simplistic shout-outs about love, family, etc., no manipulative turn is left un-Stoned. All that’s missing is an end-credits Bon Jovi song about heroism. Rather than try to duplicate the rigor of United 93, the director swings wide and milks the melodrama to the last we-will-never-forget teardrop. Yes, these men were courageous and are inspirational. The movie, however, is as safe as they come. (Now playing; Click here for venues.) — David Fear