CORPORATE LINE: Acclaimed filmmaker Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, The Bourne Supremacy) writes and directs an unflinching drama that tells the story of the passengers and crew, their families on the ground and the flight controllers who watched in dawning horror as United Airlines Flight 93 became the fourth hijacked plane on the day of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil: September 11, 2001.
United 93 recreates the doomed trip in actual time, from takeoff to hijacking to the realization by those onboard that their plane was part of a coordinated attack unfolding on the ground beneath them. The film attempts to understand the abject fear and courageous decisions of those who–over the course of just 90 minutes–transformed from a random assembly of disconnected strangers into bonded allies who confronted an unthinkable situation.
As 2006 marks the passing of five years since the epochal events of 9/11, the time has come for contemporary cinema’s leading filmmakers to dramatically investigate the events of that day, its causes and its consequences, and the everyday individuals whose fates were forever altered while simply going about their common workday rituals.
Greengrass, known for films such as Resurrected and Bloody Sunday, brings to United 93 a history of compassionate filmmaking that has explored some of the most troubled incidents of recent world history–when politics turns to violence, when beliefs slip into zealotry. As there is no perfect record of the hijacking’s exact details and hostage retaliation, Greengrass takes a careful hand and partially improvises the events with an ensemble cast of unknown actors who were given studies of their UA Flight 93 counterparts.
United 93 intends to dignify the memory of those on that flight, the men and women whose sacrifice remains one of the most heroic legacies of the incomprehensible tragedies that unfolded on that autumn morning.
THE REVIEW: Good or bad, United 93 touches a nerve. We don’t need to reexamine September 11 or all of the other events that happened on that day in this review. There are aspects of United 93 that regular people might not have known about—such as the passenger’s knowledge of the towers, the flights delay and the events on the tarmac until those in the sky. No matter the film’s quality, the feelings are the same; painful.
The most impressive aspect of United 93 was the documentary film style. The saddest part of United 93 is that we already know how it’s going to end. It’s amazing to see ordinary people step out of their ordinary lives and became heroes.
THE EXTRAS: There is a nice feature commentary with Director Paul Greengrass, featurette “United 93: The Families and the Film” with a look into the lives of the families, and finally there is a featurette called “Memorial Pages.”
FRANKLY: Truthfully, it might be too soon for United 93. It was hard not to leave the theater and not be torn up. There is such a rush of emotions from pain to anger. Any film that can move you is impressive—however there is a question of whether we might substitute emotion for quality. United 93 is a nice film that is tough to swallow.
+ Charlie Craine