US Release Date: 04-28-2006
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
- JJ Johnson, as
- Captain Jason M. Dahl
- Polly Adams, as
- Deborah Welsh
- Opal Alladin, as
- CeeCee Lyles
- Starla Benford, as
- Wanda Anita Green
- Trish Gates, as
- Sandra Bradshaw
- Nancy McDoniel, as
- Lorraine G. Bay
- David Alan Basche, as
- Todd Beamer
- Richard Bekins, as
- William Joseph Cashman
- Corey Johnson, as
- Louis J. Nacke, II
- John Rothman, as
- Edward P. Felt
- Cheyenne Jackson, as
- Mark Bingham
- Khalid Abdalla as
- Ziad Jarrah
United 93 tells the account of the hijacking and downing of the titled plane. There are no famous actors in any roles. There is little to no characterization and nothing is sensationalized. This is a movie that just lets you, the audience, watch as events unfold within the plane and in several different control centers that are trying to keep up with all of the events of that day.
Even though the final outcome of the movie is common knowledge it still got me by the gut. When the men on that plane started pounding away on a hijacker I was rooting them on. When they storm the cabin I hoped in vain for them to succeed.
The downing of United 93 has been dissected by conspiracy theorists who believe it was actually shot down. Some believe 9/11 was all a huge Bush Administration conspiracy. There are a lot of nuts out there who just want to see what they hope is real and not what is. United 93 is not a documentary and no where does it ever state that it is.
The power of the movie is not in the facts, but in the fact that real people found themselves in a life and death situation. Whether they crashed the plane or the terrorists did or a military plane did is moot. This movie has you witness a horrible event that will leave a lump in your throat, unless of course you're just another Bush hating conspiracy whack job who wants to see something that is never shown.
Corey Johnson, David Alan Basche, Christian Clemenson and Cheyenne Jackson in United 93
This was a very hard movie for me to watch. Like Eric said, it grabs you by the gut and doesn't let go. I too found myself hoping against hope that somehow a miracle would occur that would save the passengers on that plane.
The decision to make this movie in the fly-on-the-wall style is the best decision the filmmakers could have made. It puts you there in a way that is extremely uncomfortable and that removes any phony Hollywood sentimentality from it, unlike Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. As Eric points out, this movie isn't a documentary and it doesn't feel like one, it feels like a very frightening reality.
In fact, the movie is so real that it's almost hard for me to separate the reality from the movie, but judging this for what it is, a movie, I have to say that the one small complaint I have is the way that every character in the movie is too nice. The passengers, the air crew, the people in the control towers, none of them are having a bad day. Obviously, the filmmakers didn't want to portray any of the real people as being in a bad mood, or angry or a bitch, but even if just one person was, say, slightly rude to someone else, it would have added that extra depth to it. As it is, everyone is so nice and on their best behavior that it almost feels as if they know they're being filmed.
I'm trying to imagine what I would have thought about this movie if 9/11 had never happened and it was just a work of fiction. I probably would have written that it was a good movie, but with an unlikely premise and a real downer of an ending. If only it was just a movie.
When they first announced this movie I was one of the people who thought that it was too soon for a movie to be made. I'm still not sure that it isn't or that it will ever be enough time, but if they're going to make movies about that day, I hope they are handled with as much dignity as this one was.
Time continues to mercifully put some distance between us and the world shattering events of September 11, 2001. Children that began kindergarten that month will be entering their senior year of high school this fall. And yet for all of us that lived through that awful day, the memories of it will remain etched in our minds until the day we die. My husband and I had just moved to New York City that June. One reason we chose this apartment (which we still live in) was for its view of the World Trade Center towers.
My brother Scott and his then wife arrived here in August. Scott was the only one of the four of us that had to work that beautiful September morning. I remember being awakened by Scott's wife, informing us that a small plane had crashed into one of the towers (which is what the initial news reports said as shown in the movie). We looked out the window and sure enough, huge columns of smoke were billowing from one of the two tallest buildings in the city.
I can still picture that surreal experience of seeing the second plane hit. In front of me was the television news continuously replaying these horrifyingly indelible images, while if I turned my head to the left I could see the actual towers burning against that impossibly clear blue sky. If I close my eyes I can still see the huge mountain of dust that arose and choked the city streets as the towers fell one after the other.
Watching United 93 brought the terror of that day back to me in an incredibly vivid manner. This movie is disturbing and harrowing to watch. It doesn't pull any punches. It begins just as that day began, a completely ordinary morning. The minutia of the flight control process is shown in great detail. We also see average citizens, as well as terrorists, getting ready to board their planes. Then as the events of that tragic day begin to unfold, panic and chaos ensues. Slowly it becomes clear that we are under a coordinated attack from enemy combatants.
The second half of the movie deals specifically with the events aboard the titular flight. It shows Americans overcoming their fears and coming together as one unit to fight the enemy. It also shows the terrorists themselves, up close and personal, in a way very few movies have dared. They aren't demonized but are shown as the religious fanatics they were, committing atrocities in the name of Allah, or so they believed.
The cast is superb. There isn't a false note struck by anyone on screen. The climax builds to that inevitable tragic ending but somehow (like my brothers and everyone else that saw this movie), right up until the final moment I was hoping against hope that they would somehow gain control of the plane and pull up out of that nose dive at the last possible second. United 93 recreates one of the worst attacks in our nation's history in graphic detail. It is quite simply brilliant.
Photos © Copyright Universal Pictures (2006)