As the debris falls around them, McLoughlin and Jimeno are both trapped under rubble. Pezzulo attempts to rescue them, and is injured in the process. At the end of the movie, a United States Marine comes to the rescue. Names David Karnes (Michael J. Shannon), he eventually brings McLoughlin and Jimeno out but Pezzulo has already died.
Stone portrays the family members as well, showing how the disaster affected those inside and outside of the buildings. Because the film focuses on firemen and police officers, the theme of bravery is central to World Trade Center. The film focuses more on how McLoughlin, Jimeno, and Pezzulo deal with the crisis, but also shows the shock and terror felt by their loved ones.
McLoughlin emerges as the star, as Cage enjoys the most screen time. Indeed, the police sergeant is a true leader who motivates a team of men through the disaster. His ability to deal with the crisis is inspiring and in fact, McLoughlin does help save Jimenos life by continually talking to him in order to prevent him from falling unconscious. Although McLoughlin was completely unprepared for a disaster of the proportion of September 11, he rises to the occasion and comes out a hero. His experience is therefore quite different from that of Karnes, the Marine with the correspondingly gung-ho attitude who rushes into the building towards the end. Karnes seems to have fewer emotional crises than any of the other characters, who go through ups and downs as they face their own mortality.
None of the characters have time to ponder the meaning of the disaster from a political perspective, which is why the film is effective. World Trade Center is about the immediate reaction to a disaster, from the moment of calm beforehand to the horrific feelings of terror that ensue. Jimeno and McLoughlin use creative methods to keep themselves alive and to get rescued. They also have something to live for, which is why their survival is compelling. Showing their family members outside of the building enhances the tension in the film, and offers the audience a chance to see reactions from many different New York perspectives.
Any melodrama in World Trade Center is understandable, given that the September 11 disaster was one of the most dramatic moments in modern American history. It would have been impossible to depict the events of the terrorist attack without such intensity. Stone focuses on making McLoughlin look like a hero, rather than depicting any anger or possibly even selfish actions that might have actually taken place in real life. Regardless of what really happened, World Trade Center does show how courageous officers of the law reacted to the September 11 disaster.
Stone, O. (2006) World.