Writer/Director: Paul Greengrass
Running time: 111 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 6th June 2006
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 11th September 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
If the events depicted in this film were entirely fiction then nobody would believe it was possible that such monstrous acts could be committed. I remember the events of September 11th 2001 very well and I recall being totally shocked as I watched it unfold on various TV news channels. I saw this film soon after release and it provoked quite an emotional response; ten years after those terrible events it still has the same effect on me. I’ll tell you a little about the film before I give you my thoughts on it.
United Airlines flight 93 is due to take off from Newark and fly to San Francisco. We are shown the crew boarding the plane and making preparations for the flight, at this stage it’s almost like a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary with idle chat about the weather and everyday things. The passengers then board with more of the same, it’s just another ordinary day on an airline. Except for the four terrorists that plan to take over the plane and crash it into an unspecified target. Attention is split between these events and the goings on at the various air traffic control centres along the eastern seaboard of the United States. As two plane crash into the World Trade Centre and one into the Pentagon we see how they deal with the situation and how the military get involved. This takes up a good two thirds of the film. The final third concentrates on events aboard United 93 as the terrorists take charge and the passengers, finding out about the other events of the day, decide to fight back.
As I’ve already said, I found this quite an emotional experience, particularly when various passengers are saying goodbye to their loved ones over the phone. It’s also very thought provoking, the opening scene is of some of the terrorists praying in their hotel room before setting off in the morning. Something I found quite peculiar given the act they were about to carry out. Isn’t religion supposed to be all about getting along with your fellow man? Ok, I’m going off topic here.
The film does appear slightly uneven, but then again, trying to fit all the events of that day into 111 minutes can’t have been easy. It’s very well made with, as I’ve already said, almost a documentary feel to it for much of the screen time. In fact, many of the Air Traffic Controllers are played by the actual guys that were doing the job that day. As the film gets to events on the plane we get a more dramatic feel to the narrative and this is the most powerful part, I feel. Either way, if you witnessed, or heard the events of “9/11”, as it’s known in America, and even if you didn’t, I very highly recommend you watch this film.
My Score: 8.8/10.
IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 51,244 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91/100 (based on 200 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Honor Elizabeth Wainio: Hi mom, it's me... this really kind woman handed me the phone and told me to call you.
[last title cards]
Title card: Of the four aircraft hijacked that day, United 93 was the only one that did not reach its target. It crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03am. No one survived.
Title card: Military commanders were not notified that United 93 had been hijacked until four minutes after it had crashed. The nearest fighter jets were 100 miles away.
Title card: At 10:18am, the President authorized the military to engage hijacked aircraft. Fearing an accidental shoot down, military commanders chose not to pass the order to pilots in the air.
Title card: By 12:06pm every civilian airliner over America had been forced to land. Amidst an unprecedented military mobilization, US airspace was closed until further notice.
Title card: Dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.