The performances are amazing. The direction is powerful. The writing is impeccable. If you don’t walk away from the film and just want to hug the person closest to you, you’re in the cinema next door watching the new Robin Williams movie. Simple as that
Lorna Dallas, Peter Hermann, Cheyenne Jackson, Christian Clemenson
The ship’s already sailed, and there’s no way it’s returning to port now, so the ‘should they?, or shouldn’t they?’ argument is about as useful now as a cock ring for a female labra doodle – but considering nobody really wants to see films about 911 (that was pretty ballsy of me, hey?), “United 93” is a surprisingly – and relatively, faithful– affair. Which begs the question, where has Paul Greengrass gone right, where Oliver Stone, with his “World Trade Center” has gone wrong?
The answer, it seems, may lie within the films themselves. Both directors set out to make totally different movies – not just in story, or tone, but also in terms of how commercially viable they wanted them to be. “93”, it seems, wants to be no more than a starless (in that, besides a couple of ‘somewhat’ recognizable faces, there’s no names in here at all) recreation of that fateful day, that’s fortunately interested in only telling it like it is/was/straight-up/ and as detailed as possible, (even if that means ditching the Celine Dion theme for a few more minutes of chit-chat between a couple of central characters). Because it looks so real, and it’s performed so real, you believe it is – real, and have to remind yourself that you’re not a blowfly on the wall, circa 2001. And though it too is an admirable film, and does have its moments, “World Trade Center” is a much lesser take on the 911 tragedy because, well, it wants to be a movie. A blockbuster trying to hide the fact that it is. The ‘button pushing’ and ‘big names’ are just as important to the film as the central storyline it seems with that one. I could be wrong, but I believe the mere presence of Nicolas Cage in the film is proof enough that it wasn’t ‘all about’ the people, and the story.
Unlike “Center” – which fixes essentially on only a couple of characters, some firemen that get stuck under the rubble when the towers come down – “United 93” retraces the journey of the doomed passengers of United Flight 93. If there’s any slightly – because they did, after all, tragically die – feel good tale of the 911 yarns, this is it. The ‘passengers fight back’ story of 93. It’s a very stirring story. Though the people did essentially lose so did the terrorists onboard.
“United 93” is a marvellous film. It really gets into your system – and doesn’t let go. The performances are amazing. The direction is powerful. The writing is impeccable. If you don’t walk away from the film and just want to hug the person closest to you, you’re in the cinema next door watching the new Robin Williams movie. Simple as that.
If they must make these films on 911 – let them take a page out of Paul Greengrass’s book and make them for the people, and straight-up recreations. Screw the bean counters.
“United 93” is a disturbing film – but in a good way. If it had been that studio wank intent on pushing buttons and guaranteeing Christmas bonuses, that some of us suspected it may have been, it would have been much, much more disturbing.
Reviewer : Clint Morris