Last night I watched the movie “United 93.” I find it very difficult to separate the real life scenario and just watch it as a movie. As far as the movie itself goes all I can really say is “Wow!” As far as a movie goes this is a movie that had me on the edge of my seat. I knew how it was going to end, but I was still rooting for the passengers.
My friend Scott put it best after the movie ended when he stated, “I haven’t seen a movie that had my heart pounding that much than that one.” At one point, where the passengers were making their final attack on the cockpit and the terrorists when I picked up a cup to take a drink of water. My hands were shaking.
This is a powerful movie. While this movie was reviews six ways ’til Sunday when it was in the theaters it has only been made available recently on DVD. This is a movie worth seeing. This is a movie that will shake you to your core. This is a movie that will have you on the edge of your seat. This is a movie that will probably make you very mad.
It tells the tale of Flight 93 practically in real time. It does an amazing job of avoiding anything too cheesy or stupid by not filling the plane with fictional people and disaster movie clichÃ?Â©s. There’s not pregnant woman. There’s no young woman with an illness. This movie was made with the help and the blessing of the families (for the most part, as far as I know) and, from what I have heard, made with a strict desire to be as accurate as possible.
The movie doesn’t make any real judgments. Even the terrorists are shown as being human. The lead terrorist on the flight is shown as a man who is nervous, maybe even questioning. His hesitation in initiating the plane’s takeover is one of the keys that made the plane late and allowed the passengers time to find out what was going on, develop a plan to try and take the plane back, and then initiate that plan.
There wasn’t an attempt, that I saw, the over-dramatize this already dramatic story. Yes there is a musical score. Yes there are times when the passengers are in great peril. However, the real passengers were certainly in great peril. The phone calls the passengers make are taken from real recordings. The “let’s roll” is said off-handedly and not a point where the entire movie stops and a spotlight put on the passenger who said it. The actors are generally non-familiar faces and this allows them to act as a group. You do not identify one particular actor that can take you out of the movie. We are right in the middle of them. The camera moves like a documentary. You feel like you are right there on the plane with those people.
The story of what happens on the ground is as compelling as what is going on in the air. This is the part of the story that is likely to make you angry. This is the part of the story that led to a conversation with the people I saw the movie with. The frustrations the various officials involved with the air traffic in the area run into just trying to get information, getting the correct information, and then deciding and getting the authority to act is aggravating.
We discover that most of the planes and the military was involved in a massive exercise that sent most of them away from New York and Washington D.C. There are several exchanges were military officials want to know if the high-jacking is real life or simulated. Then no one can actually get anyone with any real authority on the phone to guide the people on the ground and tell them what they should do. Should they shoot the planes down? Two planes get sent to D.C. but they are un-armed. Should they be allowed to ram the passenger jets and the eject? No one can give that order besides the President and no one can find the President. At one point two jets take off and head over the ocean instead of to D.C.
The bad intel goes from one person to the next. The officials at the FAA and the military advisors end up turning on CNN to get the most up-to-date information. Then someone says American Airlines 11 has not hit the World Trade Center but is still in the air and headed for D.C. At one point there is a dry-erase board filled with possible hi-jacked planes. No one is sure at first if the plane that hit the World Trade Center is a jet or a commuter plane.
I remember being that confused on that day. I was slightly sad to learn that the people who I thought would have more resources and better intelligence were just as confused as I was while I was sitting in my car and heading to work. For some reason I don’t think the military should be just as clueless as I am and that they should have access to more information than I have when I am driving to work.
This is a movie that will probably leave you shaken. It is a movie that will leave on the edge of your seat. Just as a movie this one is very well done. It is filmed well. It is acted well despite the plethora of non-actors. You will feel like you are back there again witnessing those terrible events.
This is a movie that will probably leave you wondering and leave you talking long after the credits have rolled. This is a movie that will probably leave you sitting in your seat in silence once it ends.
Once it’s over you’ll wonder if things have really gotten any better since September the 11th. Have communications really gotten any better? Have safeguards been put into place that really make us any safer? If something like that were to happen again would the military be able to get the response that they need and would they be able to act quickly enough to stop them?
Since then the British have announced they broke up a massive plan to blow up ten to fifteen planes. The terrorists were using elaborate bottles of liquid with false bottoms that disguised the explosives as a sports drink. I think this means they have gotten a little more clever. They are still dangerous. They are plotting the next big thing. Will it be bigger than 9/11/01? Sadly, I think they want it to be. Sadly, I think it might be.
Bryan W. Alaspa’s new novel Dust is now available at his website www.bryanalaspa.com and www.amazon.com