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Monday, May 01, 2006

Review: United 93

“Praise for United 93”
May 1, 2006
From Darren Eliker

Saturday, my wife and I went to see United 93, a movie better described as ‘long overdue’ as opposed to ‘too soon’. While I understand the angst some folks feel at the anticipation of reliving the horrid events of 9/11, I have very little sympathy with the ‘too soon’ crowd.

If the families of the Flight 93 have already seen it twice, approved of it, and are asking people to go see it, the least one can do in honor of their loved ones is to accommodate that request.

Writer/director Paul Greengrass has done a marvelous job in creating a true tribute to these heroic passengers. Though he calls himself a liberal, I have to give a lot of credit to him for resisting the liberal tendency to view the events through the lens of an agenda, or to comment on them.

Rather, he permits them to have a greater impact by letting the power of the story stand on its own, allowing you the viewer to feel what you wish as the events unfold, without taking political sides.

Greengrass wisely chose actors with no visible profile to play the roles. One remarkable thing is that I can’t even recall any of the passengers’ names being mentioned during the film. Their anonymity is one of the most powerful statements.

I was impressed that we were not given sympathetic back-stories on the terrorists. There is no attempt to soften them or try to understand their actions, as it should be. These were monsters and there is no way around that.

My wife brought extra tissues in preparation for what we believed would be an emotional experience. And since I’m a sap when it comes to tales of heroism, I was glad of her forethought. But we found we didn’t need them.

While we felt the claustrophobic intensity of being crammed into that plane, the emotions we felt during the passengers’ rebellion was not sadness. It was a bit of anger, but anger mixed with a proud sense of, ‘Yeah, this is what Americans do. We fight back.’

It was nice to see United 93 take second at the box office. RV starring Robin Williams beat it, so it’s clear that many people just wanted an easy laugh this weekend. But it had a strong showing and that was something.

So do yourself a favor and see it. In fact, since it’s May 1st, go out and have dinner, see the film, then go shopping and stick a finger in the eye of these ignorant immigration protestors who have no right to make demands on the USA. Instead, celebrate those who capture its true spirit…the brave passengers of United 93.

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Anonymous said...

Haven't seen the movie and don't know if I will, but the one thing that has stayed with me since this has happened is that everyone seems to forget there was a strong possibility the passengers thought they'd be able to save themselves.

It's documented that the passengers thought they had enough force to overtake the cockpit and thought they had someone who might be able to fly the plane if they were successful in overcoming the terrorists.

Ultimately they couldn't and didn't which is the tragedy.

Given the information they had about the other hijacked planes, what is it that they did that you or anyone else wouldn't do in the same situation? And if it were you, would you want to be remembered as a hero or as somebody who just did the logical thing? After all, if they had done nothing, knowing what they knew, they wouldn't be victims, they'd be accessories to murder.

When you have a choice as to whether or not to save someone and possibly die doing so - that's the heroism that needs celebration.

So no disrespect to the families intended, but as far as "heroes" go, the NYPD/NYFD and others who died selflessly trying to save other people are at the top of that list.

Airline passengers who thought they might save their own lives are a notch below, even if it makes for a compelling story.

I'm keeping this post anonymous because this is an unpopular opinion especially in PA, despite the fact that it is certainly reasoned and logical if you allow yourself to think beyond knee-jerk emotional reactions.

I'd like to see as much, if not more, attention paid to the rescue operations on the ground at the WTC - the minute to minute decisions being made, the logistics of the planned rescues, the emotions of the teams that lost colleagues, the follow up five years later. That's the movie I'd like to see.

Reel Fanatic said...

Great review, pastor ... it is indeed heartening that this powerful had such a strong showing, and if it had been showing on as many screens as the crapfast known as RV, perhaps would have finished on top instead of a strong second

Carl Vehse said...

Based on incidences in airplanes since then, I'd say that passengers are willing to act more quickly than before 9/11 to someone trying to take over or crash the flight.

In at least one case, the disruptive person was killed by the passengers (justified as self defense, IMO).

Some reported incidences have involved people who may have had reactions to (or lack of) medications. This is unfortunate, but given the potential consequences of threatening actions at 35,000 feet, anyone who exhibits such violent actions (not just words), may experience an abrupt change in vital signs administered forcefully by other passengers.

VirginiaLutherans said...


I think you forget one other possibility- they thought they would save lives on the ground. They did know of the Towers and Pentagon. They knew what the mission of the terrorists was. You can't discount or "notch" the heroism of those who died trying to save others- you can't know their motivation. If you fight for the defense of your country when attacked, and fight for those who cannot, then you are a hero. If you bat a 1000 or win a grammy, you are not a hero (sorry Hollywood). Its that simple. There is no notches for bravery- only the brave and everyone else.

As a post note, the medal for those considered most brave in the military is the Congressional Medal of Honor. It's also awarded often posthumously.


Ray said...

Thanks for the thoughful review.
BTW, how far away do you live from
the crash site?

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi all,
Just a note to point out that the byline for this review is not mine. It's written by a friend, Darren Eliker.

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