***** (out of 5)
April 28, 2006
Lewis Alsamari as SAEED AL GHAMDI
JJ Johnson as CAPAIN JASON DAHL
Trish Gates as SANDRA BRADSHAW
Polly Adams as DEBORAH WELSH
Cheyenne Jackson as MARK BINGHAM
Opal Alladin as CEECEE LYLES
Starla Benford as WANDA ANITA GREEN
Nancy McDoniel as LORRAINE G. BAY
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I will admit that I was one of those people who, when they first heard about “United 93,” thought it was too soon. I saw the poster, and I felt a chill go down my back.
Then, I saw the trailer (inappropriately run before the stinker “Basic Instinct 2”). I was moved to tears in the two-minute preview.
But then I saw the movie. I realized that it will always be too soon for this, but that shouldn’t have stopped it from being made. In a way, it reminds me of “The Passion of the Christ.” Before that came out, people kept saying, “Who wants to see a movie in Latin and Aramaic about a guy getting tortured for two hours?”
Don’t get me wrong. “United 93” is a rough movie to watch. It takes you through a roller-coaster ride of emotion, and you’ll come out exhausted, but you’ll have a renewed understanding of the magnitude of one of the darkest days in American history. Seeing the movie made me realize that we needed this movie.
First, we need to remember that day. After a hotly-debated war, a presidential election and Michael Moore movies, we have collectively become desensitized to the events of that fateful day. We have lost sight of what happened that day. “United 93” reminds us what it was like to live through that. We remember the horror as we see it unfold. Yes, it’s hard to watch, but we need to remember so it never happens again.
Second, we need to honor the heroes of United flight 93. I don’t care whether you believe the conspiracy theories about the plane being shot down or not. It doesn’t matter. The passengers took a stand that day, and they prevailed. Whether the pilot crashed on purpose or by accident – or if the passengers stormed the cockpit and the plane plummeted during the struggle – the passengers foiled an almost perfect terrorist plot.
Too soon we forget that this was the day things changed. In a short two hours, hostages on a plane went from being rescueable to being expendable. The passengers on United 93 had the courage to realize that, and they changed history for the better. This often-forgotten story was the one glimmer of hope that we had on September 11, 2001.
Finally, “United 93” shows the absolute, undeniable evil of terrorists. They walked onto the plane, looked people in the eye and went meticulously through the motions to murder them. Using a plane full of fuel as a massive bomb is far more personal than sitting behind a control panel guiding a smart-bomb to its destination, and it’s not about collateral damage from a bomb that hit a military target during an ongoing conflict.
“United 93” will remind Americans – and people around the world – that there are people out there that will look you in the eye and murder you. There are people that think other people are sub-human simply because of where they live, how they look, what they believe or who they worship.
Made with the support of the families of the United 93 victims, this is one of the most real movies I’ve seen in a long time. Director Paul Greengrass miraculously de-politicizes the day, and he doesn’t fall into the traps of Hollywood.
One example of this is when we as the audience listen in on the final calls victims make to their families on their cell phones and air phones. It is so tempting for a writer to compose a beautiful soliloquy, but instead we hear them say things like “I love you more than anything” or “Daddy loves you.” That is where the reality lies. In such a devastating moment, we would say something trite like that instead of something poignant and perfect.
“United 93” is a must see not just for America, but the world. It is easily the best film of the year and one of the most powerful films you’ll see in a long time.