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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

United 93

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Judy Thorburn

United 93

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

"UNITED 93" - UNITED IN BRAVERY



We all remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. From the horrific first news report through weeks and months after, no matter where Americans turned we were bombarded by the media with replay of that horrendous moment when two hijacked planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center. In the aftermath, shocked witnesses on New York streets and family members of victims were interviewed on TV magazine shows such as 20/20, 60 Minutes, and Dateline to name a few. For most Americans, the visions of 9/11 are forever ingrained in our memory. It’s been almost five years, yet for most of us those recollections are as clear today as when they first occurred. So, when I was invited to the preview screening of United 93, I was reluctant to sit through what I thought would be another one of those exploitive Hollywood movies that look to cash in on a news making tragedy. On the contrary, I can report that writer/director Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, The Bourne Supremacy) has done an incredible feat by respectfully delivering a very powerful, heart wrenching film without any use of exploitation. This isn’t the first film that tried to retell the story of the one hijacked plane out of four, which failed to reach its intended target thanks to the brave passengers who tried to regain control. I have not seen the A&E movie or Discovery’s docudrama. But, I can assure you that this attempt by writer/director Paul Greengrass to reenact the events aboard United Flight 93 and show the frustration and confusion on the ground is without a doubt a completely realistic reenactment, and it is extraordinarily well done.

Noone knows the exact details of what occurred on board the doomed plane that crashed on a field outside Shanksville, Pa., but by putting all the factual pieces together from cell phone conversations and cock pit tapes, with a blend of partial improvisation, the filmmaker has carefully done his best to create as close to an accurate account of a true life event that has taken its place in history. It could not have been done better.

Greengrass adds to the realism with the use of shaky camera, a cinema verite technique, and employing some of the real life people involved on the ground playing themselves including a remarkable performance by Ben Sliney, who ironically was on the first day of his job as Federal Aviation Administration’s National Operations Manager, and NEAD’s Maj. James Fox. The film also does not take a political stand one way or the other. Rather it captures a story in real time as the events slowly and dramatically evolved over the course of 90 minutes.

For members of the crew and passengers waiting to board non-stop United 93 headed for San Francisco it was a routine day. But, for the four Middle Eastern terrorists who are shown praying in Arabic in their hotel room before they make their way through the airport and aboard the plane, it was the beginning of a ruthless, suicide mission held together by their fanatical beliefs.

This is not a typical Hollywood movie with the usual character development or the usual clichés. In normal every day life we go about sharing space with others whose names we do not know and whose lives we know nothing about. And that is how these people are portrayed. What little we know about the ill fated passengers and the plane crew are from one on one conversations that give a little insight into their personal life and intended plans for the future. The focus is on how a group of strangers, ordinary people, were able to overcome their fears and banded together to fight back the hijackers after learning about the World Trade Center and Pentagon and realizing they must be part of a coordinated attack on the U.S. The cast consists of no big name actors, which pumps up the believability factor, draws you in, and makes it all too real. A few familiar faces are David Rasche, who presently appears as the President in The Sentinel, Christian Clemenson, seen recently on TV’s Boston Legal, and Greg Henry who is in the horror satire film, Slither. But, every one of the actors fills the slots of their real life counterparts with performances that evoke honest and truthful reactions.

As the harrowing drama unfolds, the story shifts from inside the plane to various Air Traffic Control centers throughout the country starting with a suspicious transmission picked up at the Boston center from the first plane to crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The aviation personnel on the ground then try to decipher the information continually dwindling in and deal with the situation the best they can. The confusion, lack of clear communication and watching as the military personnel at NEADS (Northeast Air Defense Sector) are unprepared, unable to deploy fighter planes because of a failure in the chain of command, or in receiving instructions for rules of engagement seems incomprehensible. But these are the facts, almost as upsetting as the devastating terrorist attacks.

United 93 is not an easy movie to watch. It is an emotional heartbreaker that brought me to tears watching the passengers call their loved ones and say goodbye. To know about this event is not the same as seeing it unfold right in front of your eyes. The impact is as if being hit on an open wound that hasn’t yet healed. Yet the haunting story of these heroic passengers plays out as a testament to their bravery. Whether you choose to see what they did as an act of patriotism or not, in reality these men and women came to the plate when their survival instincts kicked in. But, as a celebration of the human spirit and a symbol of unity, Flight 93 will be remembered as a United flight in more ways than one.