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Worth A Look: 16.49%
Average: 3.09%
Pretty Bad: 2.06%
Total Crap: 6.19%

9 reviews, 43 user ratings

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United 93
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by Lybarger

"A Fitting Tribute"
5 stars

It might be too soon to watch a movie about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Nonetheless, a fitting tribute to the passengers of United 93, who may have saved countless other lives by resisting the terrorists who hijacked their flight to target the White House or Capitol Hill, is long overdue.

British writer-director Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Supremacy,” “Bloody Sunday”) has pulled off an amazing feat by making a compelling recreation of the tragedy. Never resorting to sensationalism or cheap theatrics, Greengrass makes a nail-biting and deeply moving film through its simple “just-the-facts, ma’am” presentation.

The early portions of “United 93” seem so mundane and uneventful that they are almost tedious. As with Roy Ward Baker’s 1958 movie “A Night to Remember” about the Titanic disaster, there’s an almost hidden sense of doom as the participants unknowingly make decisions that only hindsight can see as fatal.

In both films, you almost want to yell warnings to the oblivious characters. As the passengers in “United 93” snooze through the flight attendants’ safety instructions, you almost wish you could shatter their complacency. The attack is still fresh in our memory, so we know the occupants of the plane are on their way to a fiery death in a field in Pennsylvania.

The film’s action is split between the flight itself and the air traffic controllers and military personnel who tried to make sense of the situation. “United 93” moves in almost real-time as the extent of the attack only gradually becomes apparent. Initially, air traffic controllers don’t have a sense of the terror in the air. The ones who do pick up on anomalies have to fight for attention.

One of Greengrass’ smartest moves was casting some of the real air traffic controllers, including Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official Ben Sliney, who is terrific at replaying his hair-raising first day on the job.

By avoiding marquee performers, Greengrass makes the proceedings seem more authentic. The characters trying to make heads or tails of the violent confusion look real. The passengers on the flight have pot bellies and receding hair. Actors who would normally play weak-willed supporting roles seem even more brave when their characters stand up because they don’t fit the profile of movie heroes.

Even the terrorists seem human. As depicted in the film, they are nervous, hesitant and a little overwhelmed by the task. Still, you do feel a rush when the passengers resist them.

Through it all, Greengrass keeps an almost clinical tone. The events of that day were so horrific that any embellishment would have made the film lose its dramatic impact. Except for a few musical cues, Greengrass figures that viewers can determine for themselves what is frightening or tragic.

Because “United 93” is created in an almost minute-by-minute approach, we get to know the characters fleetingly before they become part of the disaster. It might have been illuminating to examine in the film what made the terrorists think that killing themselves and others was a worthy pursuit.

Greengrass has managed to treat a sensitive subject with the dignity and attention it deserves. “United 93” is expectedly sobering, but it is as involving as it is grim.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 04/28/06 14:30:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell a awesome but harrowing movie 5 stars
6/22/14 The king Greengrass is the master 5 stars
12/10/09 Screw all Conspirators Very good movie that captured the harrowing final moments of United 93. God Bless them all. 5 stars
6/07/07 Danielle Ophelia The most authentic, least manipulative film you'll ever see. 5 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Too much too soon. American citizens should Fuck this mockery of a tragic day. 1 stars
2/25/07 Danny Worth watching, but I actually thought the TV movie "Flight 93" was more gut-wrenching. 4 stars
2/06/07 Matt A tragic tale beautifully and respectfully told. May they all R.I.P. 5 stars
12/14/06 The Deadly Assassin Well crafted thriller. 5 stars
12/04/06 BrianDePalma ok movie 3 stars
9/20/06 albert awesome! 5 stars
9/10/06 Jan great film! 5 stars
9/07/06 RS Triumph of the Will 2006 Total Propaganda Hated it. 1 stars
9/06/06 action movie fan powerful documentary style thriller telling of 9/11 events--gripping and intense 5 stars
9/02/06 ES Goes against the evidence 1 stars
8/26/06 Alex Thorne mabye ten years down the line it would be decent, but this just seems exploitive. 2 stars
8/18/06 Nix thrilling 5 stars
8/17/06 Pn. Hate to sjoot YOU down, Heather, but it's time to turn off the cartoons and pay attention. 5 stars
8/06/06 Heather In real life, this plane was SHOT DOWN, get real!! 1 stars
7/26/06 Frenzy very good 5 stars
7/05/06 Jonathon Holmes one of-if not-the best film of 2006 5 stars
6/20/06 Becky The most I've ever cried in theatres. Heart-wrenching. 5 stars
6/05/06 MP Bartley Very powerful and distressing. Hard to forget. 5 stars
6/02/06 San Lamar not my kind of movie 2 stars
5/31/06 Chris Malone A Stunning unremitting statement 5 stars
5/20/06 Christine Wilbik Very moving and interesting movie 4 stars
5/13/06 Desperado What an incredible movie, I had chills all the way though it and I left stunned 5 stars
5/13/06 Eric Mc Extremely Powerful, moving, emotional and REAL 5 stars
5/10/06 Doubter pure fiction 1 stars
5/09/06 rachelle realistic with empathy for the victim's families. eveyone needs to see this movie 5 stars
5/08/06 Paul A good piece of fiction, in reality the plane was SHOT DOWN 3 stars
5/07/06 Mase Hard to watch, challenging cinema. If you let it, it will punch you in the emotional gut. 4 stars
5/07/06 Mason Tragic story + skakey hand cam + hokey dialogue = worth seein' 4 stars
5/07/06 Unimpressed if you believe this...I have ocean front property for sale in Phoenix 1 stars
5/06/06 Air Biscuit It's changed how I look at violence. Violence for entertainment feels sick now. 5 stars
5/02/06 Daniel Flawless film. And your review is spot-on. 5 stars
5/02/06 Deadite Great film. 5 stars
5/01/06 mr.mike bullseye 5 stars
4/30/06 Cheshire Gothic Succubus what can i possibly say? one of the greatest films ever made 5 stars
4/30/06 Mark very fine film 5 stars
4/29/06 Anne Great movie, loved the format. 5 stars
4/29/06 your worst goddamn nightmare Incredible film. Made me scared, angry, stressed, sad, tearful... 5 stars
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  28-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 05-Sep-2006



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