Directed by Martin Guigui
For the past sixteen years, there’s been one subject any filmmaker would be wise to avoid unless they feel extremely confident they can handle it. That’s why it came to the shock of many when director Martin Guigui and two writers who didn’t have a screen credit to their name decided to tackle the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 with a cast that included Charlie Sheen, Luis Guzman, Whoopi Goldberg, and Julius from “Remember the Titans” (who, sadly, is not as emotionally impactful as you remember him).
When five strangers are trapped in an elevator in the North Tower, they have to rely on each other (and Whoopi Goldberg, playing an elevator attendant on the other end of an intercom) if they’re going to survive. Firefighters are too busy to save them, Goldberg’s character warns. As they struggle and wait, they’ll learn about each other—backgrounds, accomplishments, failures—and show that people of all stripes can be equally devastated when tragedy strikes.
From the start, “9/11” is plagued by poor writing and stilted delivery of lines. It’s been three decades since Whoopi Goldberg’s Best Actress nomination for “The Color Purple”…you can tell. Her experience on “The View” certainly hasn’t prepared her for the emotional force her character needed here. Even worse is Charlie Sheen, decades after “Wall Street” and “Major League” got him on the map. As the voice of reason (HA!) his character gets the bulk of the dialogue. But when he needs to shed a tear, he looks like a high schooler in his first stage performance. It’s an ugly mess. Poor production quality in the few scenes where it really matters (thankfully, most of the film is set in the elevator, which is hard to mess up) is salt in the wound. But, when all is said and done, “9/11” is not as offensively bad as it could have been. It’s definitely one of the worst movies of the year, and probably in poor taste, but it had good intentions…if that counts for anything.