Cinematic Releases: 9/11 (2017) - Reviewed

It seems no year at the movies is ever truly complete without a cinematic train wreck that staggers one’s comprehension of how such a thing exists.  In 2014 it was Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, 2015 it was Jupiter Ascending, 2016 it was Gods of Egypt and now here we are at 9/11.  In a film which somehow manages to outdo the aforementioned three in terms of sheer inane ineptitude when it isn’t being completely offensive with its tawdry exploitation of a still relevant and very real national tragedy, 9/11 seems doomed from the moment it was greenlit. 

When that ridiculous poster image of a post-HIV positive Charlie Sheen staring solemnly in the distance with his face plastered atop one of the two towers appeared online, naturally it was instantly ridiculed and faced a backlash not experienced by the infinitely World Trade Center or United 93 made a decade prior.  This of course comes in light of Mr. Sheen’s own commentary on The Alex Jones Show in regards to the 9/11 Truther movement contending the whole thing was an ‘inside job’, making his involvement in the film all the more baffling.  As ever, my morbid curiosity for that rare beast of Godawful moviemaking that couldn’t be more wrongheaded if it tried went through the roof. 

Now having borne witness to it, this could well the absolute worst film of the decade, a film that is either some kind of cosmic cruel joke on the victims and survivors of the terrorist attack or an affirmation of The Bronx Bull director Martin Guigui’s stature as the most shameless hack in the director’s chair since Jared Cohn.  Based upon the Award Winning (?) play Elevator by Patrick Carson and starring the aforementioned Sheen, Gina Gershon, Luis Guzman (the only actor aware of what kind of movie he’s stuck in), Wood Harris and Olga Fonda, 9/11 traps it’s half-bored hapless cast inside an elevator within the two towers with Whoopi Goldberg and Jacqueline Bisset being the only contact with the outside world. 

Anyone who signed onto this with Sheen as the central co-star and hero of the film had to know they were taking a lighter to their respective resumes though after Bisset’s fantastic turn in Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York her involvement struck me as the greatest fall from grace.  Sheen’s out of it as usual and Olga Fonda as the trophy wife strutting her stuff on her deathbed is cringeworthy when she isn’t eliticing unintentional laughter.  The most offensive speech comes from Wood Harris who is stuck with lines like ‘gay shit’, I kid you not.  Only Luis Guzman who seems to be channeling Maurice T.T. Rodriguez from Boogie Nights emerges with his dignity intact.  The rest are victims trapped in a zero budget exploitation flick which rivals the crassness of Asylum Entertainment’s cheap knockoff The 9/11 Commission Report

Where World Trade Center and United 93 aimed to be a testament to heroism of the firefighters and passengers trying to save lives on that fateful day, 9/11 provides zilch in the way of reasons to give a shit about these miscreants.  What’s more, where the prior films put some modicum of production value onscreen interspersed with snippets of real footage, 9/11 doesn’t even try to hide it’s shoestring roots with some of the most laughably unconvincing CGI since Jared Cohn’s God’s Club.  Although not quite the backyard wrestling aesthetic of say Carl Sukenick’s Alien Beasts, it comes pretty close. 

While I did get some offensive unintentional comedy with lines prior to the attack like ‘you always wait until the 9th hour to pull something like this’ and ‘actually it’s the 11th hour’ and Wood Harris’ racist and homophobic rant, ultimately 9/11 is a dead-on-arrival dirge that’s far depressing to sit through than it is morbidly funny.  Yes it’s every bit as intolerable as I anticipated and the moments that landed like spoiled fruit thrown at a brick wall were spectacular in their ineptitude, but I didn’t expect the level of humiliation these actors willingly subjected themselves to. 

With a Best Supporting Actress Oscar beneath her belt, why did Whoopi Goldberg agree to be in this thing?  What is Jaqueline Bisset doing affiliating herself with this?  And with an actor with as much dirt on his resume and character in general as Charlie Sheen who simply put looks like Hell in this and can’t keep his trap shut on The Alex Jones Show with an even less dignified apology for foolishly ‘parroting’ what he did on said “news” program, that anyone agreed to move forward with Sheen in this at all will remain for all time in cinema history one of life’s best forgotten mysteries.

- Andrew Kotwicki