12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
All of Us United,
This review is from: United 93 [DVD] (DVD)
*** This comment may contain spoilers ***
The first movie to be released at the cinema about the 9/11 attacks was bound to court controversy. Would be it be a Jerry Bruckhiemer flag waving spectacular? I for one thought that United-93 was going to be a terrible film about an event that happened too recently to make a movie about it and about an event where no one knows for sure what actually happened But after reading good reviews for it, I decided to give it a chance. Boy was I in for a surprise.
I'm British but I went through 9/11 too. I didn't lose friends or family, I just watched it on TV and sat shocked and horrified. I think on 9/11 everyone with a heart was an American that day.
Watching the movie, with its familiar images of ordinary life (people waiting to board a plane or aboard the plane itself) and the terrible (the twin towers smoking and the smoke rising from the Pentagon) It cant help but stir up the emotions of that day. Watching the movie forces you to relive that event and also puts you, once the movie hits its climatic and stomach-churning third act, in the shoes of the doomed passengers The first two acts are about the control centres and the reaction from the military. The normal rapid fire speech of aircraft controllers gradually is replaced by sheer panic as no-one knows what to do. The army struggle with Rules of Engagement and with getting enough planes in the air to protect American cities from an unknown and utterly inconceivable plane. An especially chilling moment is when the report of a plane comes in that it was hijacked, minutes after it has already crashed into the WTC The final act is aboard the hijacked United-93. The passengers are shocked and horrified by the four hijackers who take over the plane with plans to hit the capitol building. The shock and violence of this initial attack is horrifying (as it should be) and then the passengers rally and strike back.
The passengers are hard to pick out if you don't know the subject. Tom Burnett and Todd Beamer are there obviously but the rest are harder to be sure about. As an actual movie, United 93 lacks characterisation but I don't feel that this is something that the movie left out by accident but by design. These are real people. Their motivations are to be saved in that awful day.
Some heart-breaking moments exist where the passengers call home to say goodbye. Its hard not to put yourself in the same shoes as those people. What is it you say if you KNOW your about to die? There is also a nice parallel drawn with the prayers of the passengers inter cut with those of the terrorists The final ten minutes see the passengers fight back and "roll" the trolley down the aisles to try and break into the plane. According to the movie, they come very close to the controls but never actually retake the plane. The last gasp desperate struggle to survive is played out with rising speed and tension, the sonic battery of the noise of the terrorists praying and the desperate shouts of the passengers (If we don't do it we'll die) make the last ten minutes a total sensual assault.
The final shot of the movie is totally unforgettable. One of the most explicitly horrifying images I have ever seen in a movie and I'm not sure I will ever forget it.
And that is, I think, the point of this movie. Afterwards I sat there utterly crushed, tears coming silently and coming very close to just sobbing openly. Afterwards I turned to my friend I was with and we hugged in an attempt to recover from that movie and that event and those memories.
But it is important that we do not forget "Whats past is prologue"