This is a film you must see . I've given you an order. It's a complicated, often gut wrenching film that charges in front of you in real time. We all know the story: The passengers of Flight 93 learn that other planes have been hijacked - like their own - and rather than wait for the inevitable crash, they fight back. Since it does unfold so quickly, you really don't have a chance to get to know the characters, and that is probably the only shame in this picture. Because you really do want to know who these brave, heroic people were. And I'm sure another movie or more likely a television mini-series will explore that, but I can tell you that it will not match the impact of this film.
We begin with the P.O.V. of the hijackers, settled in their rooms making preparations for their journey, literally and figuratively. Then they arrive at the airport, and from that point forward everything happens in real time. The flight is delayed, due to congestion at the Newark Airport. And the terrorists become nervous, knowing that this interruption could compromise their mission. Then we shift forward to the FAA control center, where some of the more interesting moments of this film take place. Now remember, United 93 is still on the tarmac when an air traffic controller intercepts what sounds like a struggle aboard American Flight 11. He doesn't understand the language he's hearing, but he doesn't need too. He knows there's something very wrong. Then we follow the message all the way through the chain of command, ending with the military control center. They want to know the R.O.E. (Rules of Engagement). No surprise, there aren't any.
Then another plane appears to be in jeopardy, this just as United 93 is finally give the green light for takeoff. At about the same time a member of the military translates a chilling message, "We have some planes". Then the unthinkable occurs. American Flight 11 slams into the first tower of the World Trade Center. Air traffic control only sees it as a blip on their radar screen that suddenly disappears. But we know better.
As will the passengers aboard United 93. Not long after reaching cruising altitude, a second plane slams into the World Trade Center. We watch as the FAA administrators, air traffic controllers and the military become frantic, all having no exercise for dealing with this situation. Then the cockpit of United 93 is stormed, leaving both pilots and a flight attendant dead. The stunned passengers are forced into the back of the plane where they begin calling friends and family, who inform them of the terrorists real plan. And it is here that they formulate their plan of attack.
Director Paul Greengrass makes every frame in this film count. Bringing the film to live with a no-holds barred style, that has the camera shifting in a way that would have normally been distracting, but only serves to intensify the situation. The acting in this film is superlative and at times, so translucent, that you can see right into the hearts of these people. And guess what. you don't know any of these actors, anymore that you knew any of the passengers aboard that doomed flight. And the impact of their performances in this film can not be understated. They were absolutely amazing. You definitely get the sense that director Greengrass knew that big name stars would have diminished the impact of the film. And having directed, The Bourne Supremacy, I have to believe Greengrass could have filled that plane with any actor he wanted. This was the path he chose as a filmmaker, and he has certainly directed a film that is an early frontrunner for an Oscar nomination.
Hopefully, the film's lack of star-power won?t keep the viewers away. And more importantly, I hope it won't be swallowed in the wake of Tom Cruise?s new mission. The bottom line ? this is an important film, about an important time in our nation?s history. The passengers of United 93 transcended human bravery, and will always be remembered for banding together to fight as one.