Director: Paul Greengrass | 91 minutes | drama, history, thriller | Actors: Christian Clemenson, Trish Gates, Polly Adams, Cheyenne Jackson, Opal Alladin, Gary Commock, Nancy McDoniel, David Alan Basche, Richard Bekins, Susan Blommaert, Ray Charleson, Liza Colón-Zayas, Lorna Dallas, Denny Dillon, Trieste Kelly Dunn , April Telek, Olivia Thirlby
Anyone who has paid close attention to Paul Greengrass’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ has seen that this British director has found a perfect formula for filming true dramas: the Hollywood film as a documentary. Well, almost. Fortunately, in addition to his great way of filming, he also uses virtually unknown actors, regardless of any prejudice, and realistic, tight storylines. No heroes, no romantic encounters. What you see is what you get. It is therefore not illogical that ‘United 93’, the first real film about 9/11, comes from him. The film depicts the events of that day in a very sober and truthful way, from the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, the ‘fourth plane’ of 9/11 that was the only one that failed to reach its target and crashed.
With handheld cameras and real images and sound clips from that day, ‘United 93’ plays with fiction and reality, without the standard scenes in which someone may or may not get on the plane in question at the last minute. In real time, the attack on the WTC is preceded by the departure of the aircraft and tension is built up by the difficult communication and disturbing messages from air traffic control. Tension or pressure is difficult to describe, but it is certain that Greengrass responds to emotions in a respectable way with his film. And perhaps that is also the strength of ‘United 93’. Because whether it is disbelief, fear, anger or dejection, everyone feels something about this film, without being pushed in any particular direction. They are always short fragments, in which the hostage passengers of Flight 93 are busy discussing how they take action, so that you can enjoy a climax as if you were in the plane yourself. Grants, because you know what’s going to happen. And that makes the experience of ‘United 93’ all the more intense.
Let’s talk about ‘Bloody Sunday’ then. That film is of course inextricably linked to the beautiful song of U2. And that is exactly what ‘United 93’ is missing. A strong soundtrack. Because whether we like it or not, Live’s Overcome is already inseparable from the events of 9/11. Just like ‘Paradise Now’, by the way, also a beautiful film without a recognizable soundtrack. And if that bridge is made: the only thing that was bad about ‘Paradise Now’ was that the film did not win an Oscar. Maybe Greengrass will get it done.