- 1 hr 30 min
On the morning of September 11, 2001, five individuals board an elevator in the World Trade Center's North Tower. They come from different walks of life: there's Jeffrey Cage (played by Charlie Sheen), a wealthy businessman engaged in a bitter divorce; Eve (played by Gina Gershon), a famous actress on her way to an important meeting; Michael (played by Luis GuzmÃ¡n), a maintenance worker who knows the towers better than anyone else; Patrick (played by Brian Vander Ark), a young bike messenger; and Tina (played by Wood Harris), a security guard. They exchange pleasantries, but soon their elevator stops and they are trapped.
As they wait for someone to rescue them, they witness from afar the events of that horrific day: the hijacked planes crashing into the towers, the chaos and terror on the streets, the first responders rushing in to help. But the five people in the elevator are also dealing with their own personal demons and issues. Jeffrey is bitter and angry, blaming everyone but himself for his problems. Eve is anxious and scared, knowing the stakes of her meeting but also realizing there are more important things in life. Michael is a stoic and resourceful worker, trying to keep everyone calm and working on ways to escape. Patrick is young and brash, using humor to cope with his fear. And Tina is trying to keep everyone safe, even as she grapples with her own limitations.
The movie, directed by Martin Guigui, is based on a play called "Elevator" by Patrick Carson. The play was not originally about 9/11 but set in an elevator in a Toronto high-rise. However, after the attacks, Guigui and Carson rewrote the play to incorporate the terrorist event, using it as a backdrop to explore the human condition under extreme stress.
The movie is a drama with some thriller elements as the characters try to find a way to escape the elevator, but it's mostly a character study. The five actors give solid performances, each bringing a distinct personality to their role. Charlie Sheen is particularly impressive as Jeffrey Cage, who has a lot of screentime and carries a significant emotional arc. Sheen's past personal struggles, particularly his 9/11 conspiracy theories, add an extra layer of poignancy to his performance.
The film also features some other recognizable faces, including Whoopi Goldberg as a building tenant who gives an inspirational speech to the camera, and Jacqueline Bisset as Jeffrey's estranged wife. However, their roles are limited and mostly exist to provide exposition or thematic commentary.
The cinematography and production design are effective in creating a sense of claustrophobia and chaos. The elevator set is cramped and realistic, and the shots from the building's exterior show the devastation without being gratuitous. The movie doesn't shy away from showing some of the graphic elements of the attacks, but it also doesn't dwell on them unnecessarily.
The script is a mixed bag. On one hand, it's refreshing to see a 9/11 movie that doesn't focus on the heroic firefighter or soldier narrative, but instead explores the civilian experience of the tragedy. On the other hand, some of the dialogue can feel heavy-handed or overly dramatic. There are moments where the characters seem to be shouting their emotions at each other rather than having a natural conversation. Additionally, the film's attempt to incorporate the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 feels awkwardly shoehorned in and doesn't add much to the story.
Overall, 9/11 is a solid but flawed film that offers a unique perspective on a tragic event. It's worth watching for Charlie Sheen's performance alone, but it's not a movie that will resonate with everyone. It's a heavy movie that deals with serious and emotional subject matter, but it doesn't always hit the right notes in how it handles that material.
9/11 is a 2017 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.5 and a MetaScore of 20.