REVIEW: Pros outweigh cons with 9/11 drama ‘Worth’

For many Americans who lost loved ones on September 11, the impacts were long lasting, partially because of the ensuing financial matters.

In “Worth,” audiences are shown the government program set up to provide monetary support to those families.

In this film based on a true story, Michael Keaton stars as Ken Feinberg. A DC lawyer, Feinberg volunteers to helm a government program designed to provide funding to families who lost loved ones in the attacks, as well as survivors.

As part of the program, Feinberg and his team form an algorithm, determining how many dollars each family is set to receive. However, the algorithm is met with criticism for how it appears to value each life differently based on income.

The main criticism is driven by a widow-turned-activist, Charles (Stanley Tucci), who lost his wife in the attacks. The film follows how the two try to resolve their differences and improve the program.

For the most part, “Worth” is a straightforward drama. It has a paint-by-numbers formula, resulting in a biographical type piece, keeping it from being in the upper echelon of the historical/political genre.

However, the story of this government program is one that deserves to be told, and having an award-caliber duo with Keaton and Tucci helps to elevate the picture. There’s a lot of insight to be gained regarding what these families went through, not just with their trauma, but also their emotions they had when dealing with these financial issues.

Courtesy Netflix.

One wishes the focus had not been so thoroughly on Feinberg and more spread out with the other families. However, what’s on display is still intriguing and hooks an audience in for the whole experience.

As previously stated, having talented lead actors really helps push up the film’s quality. Keaton has done solid work in the last decade portraying real life figures in “Trial of the Chicago 7,” “The Founder” and “Spotlight.” That’s true again here.

The character he’s portraying clearly wants to help the families of the victims, yet he’s a person who is better at working with data and legal matters than communicating with people. Keaton captured that personality well.

Tucci’s character, meanwhile, is angry with the government program, heartbroken by the loss of his wife, but at the same time keeps a very level head. Tucci’s performance allows those emotions to be clearly visible, without ever making the character over dramatic.

While a deeper dive into the ethics of placing worth on a human life would have been welcome, this Netflix release still earns points for telling the story of what these families had to go through and the politics at play with government proceedings.

The direction and writing is fairly average, but this picture was elevated by its performers. This one should be streamed. 3.25 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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