When I first heard that there is going to be a movie about 9/11, thoughts that ran through my head were “oh god, not any based on a true event Hollywoodized/Americanized melodrama!” and “WTF, here we go, studios trying to capitalize on another tragic event.” If you don’t already know, I think that most Hollywood movies are crap and I HATE melodramas! Well, after hearing and reading more than a dozen terrific reviews on United 93, I finally caved in and went to see the movie last night.
I don’t know where to start with this review... well, let me just say that it is one of the most powerful films I have even seen. Maybe because I had such a strong memory of 9/11 and the film made me revisit that particular day. I remember it was during my break in either my first or second week at U of T. I was walking around and saw images of smoke coming out of the World Trade Center on TVs in the display windows of various electronic stores along Yonge Street. I went into the Futureshop near Yonge and Dundas seeing crowds of people gathered around the huge plasma televisions. I also remember that everything was shutting down; all the stores were closing in Eaton Centre fearing that there might be an attack in the core of downtown Toronto. Everything was crazy that day!
Anyways, back to United 93. What I loved about the film is the style. The movie seems like it was in real time; it follows three main storylines: the flight control centres, the military headquarters, and flight United 93. (very 24-ish, but without the split screens) We don’t know any more information than anyone in the film does; it shows that the people in the flight centres, the military headquarters, etc. found out what happened the same way all of us did – thought CNN. I like how it never tries to dramatize or recreate the crashes. The film is also very documentary-like, I felt like I was witnessing some of the scenes first hand. Another key feature is that it never tries to make us connect with any of the characters: there is no character development, and we were given very little to no background information of the passengers on United 93. It reminded me a lot of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, another masterpiece!
I have never felt so terrible in a movie before United 93. My eyes were watery for more than half of the film and I had goose bumps through the entire movie. I felt helpless for the victims as the movie shown that no one on ground level really knew what to do. I also felt helpless as the military desperately tries to reach the President... my friends and I all have the image of Bush looking oblivious while reading in front of a group of children in our heads. Yes, this film might just be another manufactured movie script, with questionable dialogues and questionable depictions; however, with all the conspiracy theories aside, the event is real and very unforgettable to many, especially those around my age. United 93 does not try to patronize America, nor tries to pinpoint any blame or creates any hero or enemy; it just simply shows you how the events unfolded during September 11, 2001. I don’t know what else to say about the film except GO SEE IT!... it will definitely be a memorable movie going experience.
By now, you must either be annoyed or exhausted from reading. Sorry for this overly lengthy post, but the film is far too important to be described in anything less.