Friday, August 18, 2006

Movie Review: United 93

Everything changed on earth on 9/11/2001 - the day that two planes were deliberately flown into the Twin Towers in New York by terrorists. Only one plane out of the four that were hijacked failed to hit its target. Paul Greengrass's feature film United 93 is an incredibly realistic recreation of this flight that left me emotionally exhausted as well as inspired by the incredible courage of the passengers on that journey. This movie is the first film to deal directly with the events of 9/11 and some feel that it is too early. It would have been easy for Hollywood to produce a movie that was overdone. Far from it. Using handheld cameras, we are taken into the control rooms of major airports and the US military as well as onboard United 93 for 90 minutes of absolute realism that will have you holding your breath as you experience the terror the passengers experienced as they realised they were going to die. The movie makes no judgments -- just tells the story as if we are witnessing the events as they happened. It conveys the courage of the chief airport controller who made a decision to shut down the entire US civilian airport system. The chaos as officials and ordinary people tried to come to terms with an event unprecedented in world history. The growing horror of passengers and crew on the plane as they put things together and realise what they are caught up in. Apparently, Peter Greengrass did everything he could to make this film as accurate as possible, interviewing over 100 family members and friends of people on the flight, hiring real pilots and flight attendants to play the roles, and actual controllers and officials, including some who were on duty that day to play themselves. He also obtained material from the 9/11 Commission Report. It is obvious that, what actually happened on the plane has to be creatively guessed. But the whole thing is totally believable. One of the things this film brought home for me is that courage does not have to be tied with fanaticism. Ordinary people, faced with death, rose to the challenge and gave their lives to save the lives of others. By bringing down United 93, these courageous men and women averted even more deaths than those which had already occurred on that fateful day. This movie is a must-see. It is possibly the most powerful movie you will see this year. It was so potent I just had to sit at the end of the movie in order to calm myself. After seeing this brilliant movie, you will not be the same again. My Rating: ***** (out of 5) Positive Review 'Greengrass has made not only a thoroughly fact-checked film but a film that uncontrovertibly comes from the heart.' - Kirk Honeycutt/The Hollywood Reporter Negative Review 'United 93, as grueling as it was to sit through, left me feeling curiously unmoved and even slightly resentful.' - Dana Stevens/Slate Content Warning language, and some intense sequences of terror and violence

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