Reel Reviews | Worth

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

What is the value of a man’s life?  It may be easy to decide upon for just one life but what about if it is for all the victims of the 9/11 tragedy?  How can one man determine their Worth?

In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, the government of the United States believes that they have to take some action to stave off impending litigation that would most certainly bring the airline industry to its knees.  The decision is to create a fund that will compensate the families of all the victims for their loss.  The problem is that they have to find someone to be crazy enough to spearhead the negotiations and get the victims on board with the fund.  In walks litigator and law professor, Ken Feinberg (Michael Keaton) with an admirable sense of duty for a nation in trouble.  Only soon, Feinberg realizes that he is in trouble when this job is truly larger and much more complicated than he imagined.

The drama Worth is Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island) and directed by Sara Colangelo (The Kindergarten Teacher, Little Accidents).  It stars Keaton with Stanley Tucci, Amy Ryan, Tate Donovan, Marc Maron, and Shunori Ramanathan.  Based on a true story, it tells the story of the development of the historic September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

WORTH (2021) Stanley Tucci as Charles Wolf. Cr: NETFLIX

Max Borenstein, whose claim to fame has been penning the Warner Brothers’ Monsterverse, turns in a spectacularly tight and dramatic screenplay for this movie.  While the movie touches on the political and bureaucratic backgrounds of this true story, the real focus is the human element.  If it is a story about 9/11, there is automatically an intense level of emotion attached to it.  This film approaches the story in a different manner though.  With the tragedy as the backdrop for the movie, this story really focuses on the effects upon the survivors and poses two moral questions:  how much is a life worth and is one life worth more than another?

Michael Keaton is given another opportunity to show why he has become one of the best (and hardest working) actors of this day.  As Feinberg, Keaton anchors a tale that is deeply emotional with a smart and nuanced performance that morphs in strength from beginning to end.  Stanley Tucci reunites with Keaton (Spotlight) and is near equal in performance to Keaton as he plays Charles Wolf, a heartbroken, social activist who doubts the motivation of Feinberg and politely but effectively fights him throughout the movie. 

There is the question of timing.  The twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 incident is this year and the film is being released a week before the actual date.  This movie was completed in 2020 but because of the pandemic, it was moved back to be released this year.  The move may be fortuitous because of the association with the date.  It is also smart not to open on the exact date as well so that the movie does not seem callous to profit off of the tragedy.

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and thematic elements, Worth is an interesting attempt to make light of a part of history that has gone unnoticed.  It is well-acted and decently directed.  It is full of emotion and heart unlike its predecessors and contemporaries (Netflix has another movie coming out called Turning Point.) that are full of anger and vitriol.  Love, honesty, and value are at the center of this movie which places a triumphantly human spin upon a story about one of the most tragic moments in United States modern history. 

Worth is playing on Netflix. 

Grade:  B

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