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April 2006

United 93

By Tonisha Johnson

United 93


Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Paul Greengrass
Screenwriter: Paul Greengrass
Cast: J. J. Johnson, Gary Commock, Polly Adams, Opal Alladin, Nancy McDoniel, Starla Benford, Trish Gates, Simon Poland, Khalid Abdalla, David Alan Basche, Lisa Colón-Zayas, Meghan Heffern, Olivia Thirlby, Cheyenne Jackson











“This is a real world situation”.

The world had no choice but to sit back and watch the horrific devastation of the September 11, 2001 attacks. And once the smoke cleared, many people were ready to go to bat for America. This majority of Americans thought war was justified and should be implemented.

Fahrenheit 9/11 raised disturbing questions of the events that surrounded the catastrophe that to date is the largest attack on American soil.

New stories and theories about the actual events and what led to ultimate destruction have caused many to question the role of our own government in the terrorist attacks.

Did President Bush know something? Could it have been prevented? Did a plane really fly into the Pentagon?

Americans could no longer stand by their word; or the President. The once passionate eruption inside for a waged war depleted to a cry for help. An answer. A call to get those troops out of there.

And how did we go from Osama Bin Laden to Sadaam Hussein?

The people that boarded those flights were destined to die. Unknowingly.

United 93 graphically tells the heroic stories of those on that actual flight. There are no big named actors. The background takes center stage. As ordinary people from all walks of life, get themselves ready for take off. They pre-pack, sometimes days ahead or hours. They make sure they have their I.D. and some cash to carry. A CD or laptop accompanies them. Their cell phones are charged. Sometimes the last things they say are, “I’ll call you before we take off’, or “I’ll call you when I land”. This was their only preparation.

This film tells the story from the point-of-view of the traveler. When we board a flight we put our bags and jackets on the seat. Take out what we need. And either place the bag in between our legs or above the overhead compartment. We may ask the stewardess a quick question. We make a phone call before instructed to turn our phones off.

The flight attendants may have a story of their own. Children, husbands, going to school to better themselves can be possible angles. Their tired and maybe have worked 3 flights in 2 days. But they are alert and attentive. They have to offer food and beverage. Instruct passengers in case of an emergency.

This film is personal yet impersonal. From the headlines, the world knows that flight 93 was the one flight that fought back. Those passengers were determined not to die. Or die trying as they did. United 93 tells the story but it’s a reenactment. It plays out based on recorded conversations, testaments from the families, notes, etc. This was the script. There wasn’t an introduction of each “character”, so-to-speak. It wasn’t a Hollywood production. It was a real life production.

But not only were the passengers depicted, so were the terrorists who were destined to die. Knowingly.

The painted picture of the terrorists knowing they were to die is clearly a cheated portrait. Not only do these mass murders take lives but they get to put order in their lives before their sacrifice to Allah.

So as passengers prepare for a moment in life in the form of travel; these terrorists made sure their families were taken care of. They got to say goodbye.

What was even more incredible is Paul Greengrass humanized the terrorists. These extremists, in the film, looked like everyone else. Clean cut. Healthy and strong. Not the vision television provides an audience.

They appeared to be business men, maybe students or working class. Average.

At one point, Paul Greengrass has one of the terrorists make a phone call ending with I Love you.

And although they did it in the name of Allah as black boxes confirm, they knew they were going to die. They prepared for it. Their lives were over. There families meant more to them in death than in life. They felt a justice.

Director Greengrass gives them a story. A character. One based on hesitancy; another on time; while one was impatient and the other was preparation.

Whether the world feels it’s too soon for a movie such as this to be released is just too bad. The story is real. It happened. This is just a reenactment.

Be prepared for an emotional and realistic ride on United 93

Copyright 2006 Tonisha Johnson