United 93 is a different sort of movie as it tries to hit you with a bare bones real-life feel. It carries no usual cinematic frills — it has a very muted soundtrack, no pre-movie advertising, no grandiose dialogue, no montages, no commentary, and no hype. It starts in the morning and moves in real time to the very end. It successfully delivers a reality-shock feel. This art form works even better in the multiple control tower scenes where you feel like you are right there going through the chaos and confusion as it happens.
The no-frills approach also works against the film. The terrorist were shown as it supposedly happened with little exploration or explanation. The deeper and unyielding questions America has for the terrorists such as “how the did it”, and “why they did it”, are left to other movies and media to explain. It was such a generic portrayal of the terrorist that one could image that with some editing, that some terrorist groups could show it as a promotional video. Those twisted minds just might.
When the famous Todd Beamer’s 911 call came up, I never heard the phrase “Let’s roll”. The Lord’s Prayer scene was shared with the hijackers prayers to Allah. I think I know what the director was trying to do (demonstrate irony), but it ended up looking like the prayers to save the plane and crash the plane were basically the same gibberish. It leaves you feeling that Hollywood just can’t help but fumble spiritual subjects.
All in all, the film is successful in its unique approach. I think everyone will get a deeper appreciation for the flight crew and all the emergency officials on the ground and the utter turmoil of what they went through. A lot of people inject blame or conspiracy theories into the 911 tragedy. By putting you in the moment this movie helps you realize the madness of the situation and gain more sympathy for how us humans dealt with it. My friend came into the movie believing that the plane was secretly shot down, and changed his mind after it was over.
I encourage everyone to see it.