United 93 review
I cannot take responsibility for what anyone else watches, or pretend like I know whether they will like something. I don't know whether you are worried about being traumatized--or whether you have a problem with watching something with and R rating...etc. For my part, I think it would do most people good to see it--just for the sake of remembrance. I can only say what I saw--what I wrote here is it.
An exam postponed, a study group canceled...there I was with an open Saturday evening with no desire or inclination to study it away in Bellingham. A thought struck me: Why not go see the movie, United 93. I got there just after it started for the 6:50 showing and tried in vain to relax in the seat. Nothing doing! There were at least two parts during the movie where I had to tell myself, almost out loud, to calm down. It's a very well-made film, however, with no embellishment—just a gritty sense of everyday realism. The soundtrack is minimal and many of the actors are playing themselves.
United 93 is an ideal story for a movie, not just because of the powerful subject matter and details, but also because the amount of speculation necessarily built into the plot is relatively minimal. After leaving the theater, I asked an employee what some of the reactions had been up to that point. He described two separate occasions where a male moviegoer left the theater following the movie, stood on the sidewalk and just screamed. I didn't observe anything close among the Saturday viewers, but, all things considered, I wasn't surprised in the slightest upon hearing this anecdote from the employee.
SPOILER ALERT BEYOND THIS POINT
Details for those who don't want to watch it.
Perhaps it's just in retrospect that I am starting grasp the raw power that is United 93. I didn't detect a Hollywood version of humanity among the people on the plane. They were normal, reacted with rage, horror, discord, unity and determination at appropriate moments. The two parts I mentioned above include the buildup to the initial take-over of the plane--the horror of the situation looms incredibly ominous and doesn't at all stop short of fulfilling the dread one feels just before it happens. The second spot is naturally at the climax...or rather the end, during the attempt to take the retake plane. With one single-engine rated elderly pilot on board, the passengers’ intention to subdue the terrorists and get this man to the controls before an inevitable ditch attempt, seems a staggering feat even before its commencement. That sequence of scenes is incredibly vicious and gripping. The director chose to portray a stiff defense by one of the hijackers in the first class cabin. The cockpit is also hotly contested, while throughout the struggle, the terrorist pilot (an extremely nervous character, who the movie implies might have ensured the hijackers’ successful crash into the capitol, if he had just commenced the takeover sooner) attempts to disrupt the passenger's efforts by erratic maneuvering...
At the conclusion, the passengers’ pilot is seated at one of the controls beside the terrorist. In the chaos, while two or three men attempt to restrain the man struggling to put the plane into the ground, the camera affords a fleeting view of the other man's hands struggling on the controls before the movie ends without ceremony as United flight 93 met her fate.
I included those details because I think they are important (for those who will not watch the movie for whatever reason) for understanding just how much this movie makes the viewer wish for a different outcome. The ill-fated effort to retake the cockpit will leave many with a hole in their hearts. I recognize just how much the producers could have risked if they had tried to embellish an already overwhelming story. This story isn't fiction, and could easily have developed a fictitious flavor if it had been tackled from any other angle. There was no need though—the story speaks for itself.