There’s something to be said about making a movie about real-life tragedies, especially ones that are recent. Take Patriots Day, for example, a movie about the Boston Bombing, a tragedy that wasn’t even four years old when the film released. But the film excused its existence by paying homage to the heroes of the event as well as the police in general.
But this? A movie about 9/11? A tragedy that hit America so deep that it altered the course of our history in many ways?
Perhaps you can justify this by casting fantastic actors who could do the roles justice. Instead, we get Charlie Sheen, a man who considered himself a “9/11 Truther” who has parroted the claims that 9/11 was an inside job.
Accompanying Sheen is Whoopi Goldberg, a woman who has all but given up on acting to say crazy things on The View.
Well, even bad actors can be utilized well with a fantastic director… But director Martin Guigui has only directed a handful of movies, all of which nobody has ever heard of, and most critics say are bad.
Well… maybe the plot is good? Maybe they’ll make a story about the heroes of 9/11, an event that turned many ordinary people into self-sacrificial saints, and turned a city mostly known for its rudeness into a city of people who began to care for their neighbors.
Nope. Ready? Here’s the plot in 20 words or less:
Five strangers get stuck on an elevator in the World Trade Center during 9/11. That’s it.
I’m not kidding you, over three quarters of this film takes place in an elevator in which five unlikable assholes all talk to each other, most of which involves them talking about their own lives.
The only other real subplot is Whoopi Goldberg’s character, an elevator supervisor who tries to help get them out of the elevator occasionally.
The rest of the movie is filler. Specifically, scenes of our characters’s families looking sad, and footage of the twin towers blowing up during 9/11.
The scenes in the elevator seemed so detached from the actual event of 9/11 that I wouldn’t be shocked if someone told me the original screenplay was about people getting stuck in an elevator, and that they just put them in the World Trade Center in hopes that people might actually see this boring movie.
Charlie Sheen himself gives an incredibly half-hearted performance throughout the entire movie. The way he spits out his lines seems so disinterested that many of his serious lines came across as humor.
He plays some rich Wall Street type who works in the twin towers, and for some reason, he spends the beginning of the movie speaking to his wife (Gina Gershon) and her lawyers about their upcoming divorce. Why are they discussing their divorce in the World Trade Center? The answer is because it was necessary for the plot.
Every other actor that wasn’t Charlie Sheen actually looked like they were trying to act. Oddly enough, their performances were all worse than Sheen’s. The atrocious script and the abysmal directing basically turned every single person in this movie into clowns.
We have Luis Guzmán, who plays a man whose only defining traits are that
A. He’s Latino
B. He’s a janitor (sorry, “janitorial technician” hyuk hyuk!)
C. He owes Whoopi Goldberg $100, a fact that literally gets mentioned 5 times in the span of this 90 minute poop-slinging fest.
We also have Olga Fonda, who plays some woman who went to the World Trade Center to end her relationship with her sugar daddy (no, I’m not shitting you, that’s her character).
Finally, we have Wood Harris, a lovable family man who was delivering a package to some dude at The World Trade Center.
Oh, also, he’s a black man who’s racist against Pakistanis… and also Latinos… and he hates rich white dudes. This racism comes up only once, it’s never hinted at before, it’s never brought up again, and it basically ends when he’s told that Charlie Sheen is rich because he worked hard to get to where he was and he wasn’t privileged.
And this brings up a very distinct problem with this movie: it is set up as a 90-minute exercise in character development, and it doesn’t make consistent characters. Everybody just says random things at random moments. The movie tries so desperately to make points about family, love, the human experience, and racism; and they do so with blank slate characters that poorly deliver terrible lines.
The cinematography is about as good as you’d expect a movie to have when it mostly takes place in an elevator. There are so many awkward close-ups and weird shots that happen in this movie, and it all feels excruciatingly disjointed.
The film constantly pads out its screen time by giving the characters ideas to escape the elevator, and whenever that plan has at least a little bit of resistance, they give up on the plan entirely so that they can sit down and vomit out more crappy soliloquies to the audience.
When they finally DO find a way out of the elevator, not even five seconds after this discovery, the steel ropes holding the elevator start snapping apart. Why? Because the movie needed to be 20 minutes longer.
And holy crap, when the ropes start snapping off, and everyone starts free-falling, they shoot it in slow motion, showing awkward close-ups of all the characters screaming down the elevator. And I laughed out loud in the empty theater I saw it in.
The ending of the movie seems so disinterested in giving any sort of valor to any other victim of 9/11, and portrays all but the main characters as uncaring and aloof. Once one of the characters escapes the elevator, they go to find help, and every single person that character runs into looks at her as if she’s stupid, until she finds two firefighters, only one of which decides to help find them.
This part of the film literally plays more like a horror-suspense movie than it does some sort of story honoring the victims of 9/11. Then, finally all but one character escapes the elevator, then the tower comes crashing down, and the movie just ends. That’s it.
This movie has nothing to say, no real story to tell, and no real focus. All they do is create a bunch of boring, blank characters. They then stick these characters on an elevator, and have them talk about 9/11 every once in a while.
This movie is painfully boring, tedious, insulting, and witless. It is a disgrace to movie making. It is a shameful cash grab that aims to exploit audiences who may want to see a movie based on 9/11.
If you want to watch this movie, here’s an idea: watch Devil instead, pretend one dude is Charlie Sheen, pretend that there’s no devil in the movie, pretend that they talk about 9/11 every once in a while, and pretend everyone has brain damage. You will basically get the same result.