United 93 movie full length review - One of the best movies ever made
Paul Greengrass is one my all time favourite directors, i do indeed think he is one of the modern greats and this film is one of the strongest reasons i believe this.
He made a film about what has been called one of the most infamous dates in modern history with care, consideration and respect. I don't think a film about 9/11 could be made much better than this, personally i'm not sure any film can be better. It has it all, it follows a single occurrence within the event yet never neglects to show the big picture, it is almost definitive in that regard. It has emotion, thought provocation and chooses an area of grey as opposed to black and white. it wisely avoids any political side taking and has no long lasting agenda other than to show us the event as it was, it is gritty to the point of believing the camera itself could miss what's going on if it isn't quick enough.
Yes, the hijackers are violent and undoubtedly the villains of the story yet it is never forced, they murder innocent people and plan to murder many more but in every scene in which they pray furiously and sweat uncontrollably it becomes clear this is the behaviour of someone manipulated and if i had to guess i'd say they are spending every second convincing and reassuring themselves this is the right thing to do, all the while pushing away the nag that it might not be. When the plane is finally hijacked it is one of the most intense scenes i've ever seen but the film doesn't wait until then to get serious. aside from the first two planes hitting the world trade centre being heart stopping to the point of gag reflex, every moment since the beginning has this unnerving ora about it, like something bad is coming and the characters have no idea. In fact it's almost as if the film is trying to say "i know that you know exactly what's coming, and there's nothing any of us can do about it".
the film opens with the Hijackers preparing for their mission and reading from the Quran while an unsuspecting city comes to life in the early hours of September 11th, it sets a sorrowful mood that refuses to go away and it only gets more intense from there. No one was looking when the first plane hit, there is confusion then the second plane hits and i swear, it is one of the most heart stopping moments in cinema i have ever witnessed, this time everyone is looking at the towers and the sudden yells from everyone watching the plane hit is preceded by a loud build up of harrowing music and followed by a moment of silence before a haunting child's voice takes over the soundtrack and the characters realise something terrible is happening.
United 93 is hijacked, we see things, disturbing things, brutality and terrorisation, the filmmaking makes us feel we are there, the sound of the plane humming, the acting, the visuals, it almost feels too real, it's genius directing. i felt sick during every moment on the plane from then on. it's not just on the plane however, the air traffic controllers, Ben Sliney and his people, the military, we see everything from their angles too, and it is riveting stuff, the look on everyone's face when the second plane hits is heartbreaking to say the least. the film refuses to stop the tension, it only keeps building and building until it reaches my favourite scene in movie history. the passengers are at the end of their rope, everyone knows what's going to happen and decide to do something, they are presented to us like strangers, there isn't traditional development, we don't get to know them in a way that other movies would let us, some people have found problem with this but i strongly disagree.
Greengrass set out to achieve a specific goal and i think he succeeded, to make us feel like we are on the plane and don't know these people, to terrorise us with tension as they are being terrorised, to assault our anticipation as their's is being and finally to make us want to scream and shout with them as they try to take back the plane. the final six minutes are almost hard to watch but we must, the passengers do away with restraint and allow survival instincts to take over, they practically tear the two hijackers guarding them to pieces and in their attempts to get the controls the plane nose dives, crashing and killing everyone on board. this is my favourite film for being not just a film but a respectful, heartbreaking first hand look and what could have happened, it simply wants to tell a story, it has no malicious agenda, thoughtlessness and even exaggeration, there is no glamour, no fictional romance, no glorification, everyone on screen is just a normal person, no political propaganda needed for either side; it is simply grey.
the camera is shaky but not annoying, the grit and spontaneity goes through the roof, the visual style is fantastic, the acting is phenomenal, the direction is flawless, the tension is almost unbearable and the respect this film has for its story and the real people is admirable, the bar was set for other true story films in the future and is still there today. i've rarely seen a better film before or since. it has a grand scope and limitless ambition, one i can watch over and over and never get tired of, every time i watch it i notice something i didn't before, it gets to my nerves every time, it never ceases to enthral me. Such a sad and horrible story was made into a great important film. i love it. it's one of my all time favourite movies.