Bloggers review “United 93”

posted at 7:42 pm on April 30, 2006 by Allahpundit

I won’t see it. Saw this yesterday on Google Video and realized it was enough. The first reviews are being posted around the blogosphere this morning, though, and I’m going to try to round them up. If you’ve posted a review and want it mentioned here, trackback to this post or e-mail me at allah -at- And if you missed our Vent about U93 on Thursday, now’s your chance.

The most comprehensive blog review thus far is Rick Moran‘s:

In the end, Greengrass lets the story do all his talking. A wise choice since … it would have been a relatively simple matter to have made a histrionic, flag waving spectacular instead of the intensely personal drama U-93 turned out to be. For some, that intensity will open old emotional wounds from 9/11 making it very difficult for them to see this film. I would urge them to make the effort anyway. For United 93 will not heal the hurt but rather recall in a vividly personal, emotionally charged manner who and what caused our souls to be scorched that terrible day.

Ace hasn’t seen it yet but many of his commenters have, including Patterico contributor See-Dubya, who describes himself as “utterly numb.” Ms. Underestimated reports feeling the same, and says it was a common reaction inside the theater. Sissy Willis notes the scene that intercuts shots of the passengers praying with similar shots of the hijackers praying and comments that it “caught her up short.” Annika’s not worried about the niceties of particular scenes, though; she wants blood (content warning). As does Right Wing Nation, who says he found himself reaching for his gun at certain points during the movie. He also uses the film as a jumping-off point to describe his trip to Shanksville; lots of photos at the link.

Update: A largely negative review from Jason Apuzzo at Libertas, the conservative film blog. He praises U93 as being expertly made, but finds its refusal to judge what happened on Flight 93 — its “realism” — maddening.

[W]hile we were endlessly assured by media professionals that everything had changed after 9/11, really nothing had changed. And so here, basically, is the problem with United 93, a film which is in other respects a very commendable effort … it’s already old. It’s a film about a period of time that no longer really exists – a period before Michael Moore, before the Patriot Act, before orange alerts, before Valerie Plame, before the French stabbed us in the back, before you could download the latest Bagdad beheading onto your iPod. Before the massive meta-debate that has emerged over the significance of 9/11 – namely, what do we do about it?… The victory conservatives seem to be celebrating with this film – that Hollywood (actually it’s a group of British filmmakers) has finally made a sober film about 9/11 – strikes me as being a somewhat hollow one.

Update: Three reviews are already up at Blogcritics. The best of them is by James Frazier, who notes a scene in which a European passenger tips the hijackers to the passengers’ impending revolt. Fact or fiction? Update: Debbie Schlussel e-mails to say that Frazier has it wrong:

While there is ABSOLUTELY NO such scene of [the passenger] tipping off hijackers, he repeatedly counsels against fighting the terrorists for the entire flight, claiming “they will not harm us if we do what they say, and we’ll be safely returned to the airport.”

Debbie wrote one of the first blog reviews of U93, calling it “Movie of the Year” in a post published on Tuesday, and followed up yesterday with a response to those who accused her of deliberately omitting Mark Bingham from her first review because of his homosexuality.

Update: Mary K caught a sneak preview a week ago and says she gained new respect for the professionalism of the air traffic controllers who had to respond that day. She also describes the killing of the first hijacker as “quite possibly the most satisfying, cinematic moment I’ve ever experienced.” Josue Sierra wants a new 9/11 film made every year, and takes time to respond to a Kos commenter who questions the timing of the film’s release.

Update: Bloggers are reviewing the reviewers, too. Moran is back for a second bite at the apple, the “apple” in this case being Slate critic Dana Stevens. Cranky Insomniac de(con)structs Paul Farhi’s front-page treatment of the film at WaPo. Psychologist Robert Godwin responds to some of the choicer comments at the Huffington Post as part of his longer essay on the psychology of envy. Meanwhile, Varifrank talks about his own “survivor’s guilt” and challenges conservatives who complain about Hollywood’s silence on the war to put up or shut up at the box office.

Update: Vanderleun’s also reviewing the reviewers, and pans NYT critic Manohla Dargis. The Ugly American echoes Mary Katherine Ham’s reaction to the scenes inside the control room, while Right Truth asks himself the inevitable question, “What would I have done?” Brainster, who offers another rave, includes this interesting tidbit:

Oddly, they don’t specifically indentify anybody other than the hijackers, although there are clues throughout for those in the know–Jeremy Glick is the one who wants to talk to Liz, Todd Beamer is the one who asks the operator to call his family. Mark Bingham is the guy with the rugby shirt who’s the last to board the plane.

Update: Dave from Garfield Ridge: “I won’t lie to you– United 93 is the toughest film I’ve ever sat through, tougher than anything. But it was worth it.” Deep Keel says it’s too late for “never forget”; we’ve already forgotten. Like Varifrank, Fake Turkey has his eye on the box office. And here’s an interesting post at responding to MyDD’s complaint about U93 initially being marketed only on conservative blogs.

Update: Twenty-four hours since the last update. Today’s reviews are more reflective, using the film as a starting point for grander themes. Start with this moving treatment by my pal Vanderleun, who plays Cassandra in concluding, “On one of our days to come, there will be another test. You’d best have an answer prepared.” Pieter Dorsman of Peaktalk watches himself watching the film and catches himself misremembering details as a way of making sense of the day’s events. Barb at Righty in a Lefty State reports some memory side effects as well.

See-Dubya is guest-blogging at Junkyard Blog for whoever the slacker is who runs that joint. See-Dub notes yet another memory effect: so intense is the film that he honestly can’t remember details well enough to resolve the dispute between Debbie Schlussel and James Frazier about the foreign passenger. Laura Lee Donoho says she does remember, and that the passenger does indeed try to warn the hijackers. Laura calls it dhimmitude in microcosm.

Publius Rendezvous and TechnoChitlins note a common reaction: absolute silence in the theater at the film’s end. WC at the Gathering Storm says there was no silence in his theater. There was something else.

Finally, Craig Henry at Lead and Gold imagines what the reviews for U93 would look like if applied to films about other American traumas — and re-writes them accordingly.

Update: Captain Ed is back from the theater, and pronounces the filmmakers’ decision to intercut scenes in the control room inspired:

I think that the wider focus on the frustration, anger, and anxiety in the control centers helps the movie in two distinct ways. First, it allows the audience to remember the context of United 93 in the course of 9/11, making the timing easier to understand. More importantly, when the passengers finally rally and start to plan the attack, the amount of time left in which to do something comes as a shock to everyone. Rasche, who plays civilian pilot and passenger Donald Greene, tells the group that the plane is flying too low to allow the hijackers much more time, and that the counterattack had to separate them from the controls immediately. Any attempt to dive would not allow enough time to pull up.

That time frame could not be overcome, although the movie shows the passengers reaching the cockpit and engaging the terrorists on the flight deck. The last images of United 93 come from the cockpit window, where the Pennsylvania countryside spins ever close to the plane, until the screen suddenly goes black.

Other blog duties are calling, so here’s the Technorati link for those who want to stay on the trail.

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Interesting perspectives. I liked the movie. It does inspire a righteous, patriotic anger. I told my wife it made me feel like going to my local air force recruiter and signing up!

While I agree that I tend to question how effective our government has been in securing the nation, and enacting changes, the fact is that this movie demonstrates that Americans are NOT going to allow terrorists to work unimpaired! We have and will continue to fight back. For that, there is no need for any government programs.

Josue on April 29, 2006 at 1:22 PM

Thank God that “Flight 93” is in the theaters, this film will wake people up, and make them think about our struggle with the enemy in the coming years; yes I said years.

birdman on April 29, 2006 at 2:31 PM

Wanted to see ‘United 93’ here in East TN, and very few screens are showing it in this area. This will impact ratings. I can already hear the libs crowing if the film doesn’t rank well.

dman on April 29, 2006 at 2:56 PM

I’ve posted my review over at SondraK

The Ugly American on April 29, 2006 at 5:17 PM

Just returned from seeing “United 93”. At the end my not-always-easy-to-please wife said: “that was the best movie I’ve ever seen”. I agree. Very intense, very well made. Not overly gory. The FAA Director’s decision that day to ground all the planes in the air over the USA (4200) was one gutsy call. It makes your blood boil which is a good thing. Bottom line: every child in this country should see this film before he/she graduates from High School!

AtlantaRich on April 29, 2006 at 5:17 PM

Yes I saw the movie yesterday and it was amazing. I recommend everyone see it. We need to be reminded that we got caught with our pants down, that there is evil out there that wants to destroy us, that there were many heros on 9/11 and their bravery needs to be remembered.

Debbie on April 29, 2006 at 6:03 PM

I have decided that I will go see “Flight 93” tomorrow, I understand that 10% of the boxoffice this weekend goes towards the famileys of 9/11. I understand that it is A good idea to have A couple of drinks before seeing the movie. I think I can make it through could turkey.

birdman on April 29, 2006 at 6:49 PM

I want to know where the super-sekrit vault is where the networks keep their video of the planes hitting the twin towers. Who guards the footage? Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite sit outside the vault in rocking chairs with cell phones on instant dial to Wackenhut? Or is there a time lock on the vault which springs open the day a Democrat becomes president?

Essex on April 29, 2006 at 7:29 PM

This is a reminder of how these bastards used a suprise sneak attack to take over the controls of OUR biggest planes, loaded with OUR passengers, and fly them like giant missles into OUR buildings, full of OUR fellow citizens.

At the end of the movie, I was numb and teary-eyed, but filled with an anger and an ache to do all I can, in whatever capacity, to destroy these Islamic Terrorists.

Just like the passengers on United 93 did not rely on the soldiers, neither can we. Average red-blooded Americans have to help our military destroy these terrorists. We are all in this together. Never forget that.

Republicans know this, we know this is a real war. The Liberal Democrats think these barbarians can be reasoned with.

I say our War effort needs to be cranked up! Turn our military loose!

Richard Davis on April 29, 2006 at 7:59 PM

Just got back from watching United 93 with my daughter (22) and son (17). It was very difficult for me to see those people in the plane terrorized by those barbarians. My reaction over the length of the movie rose from a feeling of helplessness, to sadness, and to anger. I was however uplifted by the bravery of those passengers against evil.

Having lived in a Muslim populated area when I was growing up, it was always clear to me that Islamists in their midst could do such a thing because of the inherint aspect of their religion. It seems to me that civilization’s advance to modernity has a visceral and violent reaction from these Islamists. My view about this was of resignation prior to 9/11.

United 93 shows these barbarians for what they are. The movie forces us to see the reality of a world with evil in it. My children have been sheltered from this kind of horror but are now educated about it because of the movie. This should be the approach we take in fighting evil. Expose it to sunlight. We should stop sanitizing our view of reality as Islamists are skilled in Muhammad’s practice of taqqiya. In fact, pictures of atrocities that these Islamists have done all over the world should be shown regularly to remind the world that Islam is still on the march to pull civilization back to the 2nd century.

TrueKatipunero on April 30, 2006 at 1:15 AM

Debbie Schlussel did not see the same film I did.

Just prior to the assault, the passenger with the vaguely German (Swiss?) accent stands up trying to alert the terrorists. He is quickly subdued. In fact, that passenger’s warning may have spurred the passengers to action in the film – although that sequence is a little fuzzy in my recall.

But there is no doubt the foreigner stood up and tried to warn the terrorists and was subdued.

rick moran on April 30, 2006 at 7:08 AM

Did anyone notice the little things in the film that confirmed how diabolical this sneak attack was? Such as when they showed the plane being fueled…. they took a few seconds to show the massive volume of fuel being pumped in. Do you remember seeing the meter rolling past 6,500 gallons? This fuel was needed to fly the jet cross-country, but we now know that the terrorists intended to use the fuel AGAINST US and it was this volume of fuel that ultimately brought down the towers.

Also, how the Air Traffic Controllers kept referring to the 4 planes as “big ones” (something like that).

The Islamic terrorists who follow this “religion of peace” got the biggest planes they could find, with the most fuel on board, and used them as MASSIVE MISSILES to cause as much death and destruction as possible!

There is only one way to stop these bastards, and that is to pound them into submission. Raw superior firepower, is all they will respect.

What will it take for the USA to finally unleash its military might? I’m afraid to wait for the answer, but that is what we are going to do.

In the meantime, all of us need to be vigilent and alert. We’re all in this together.

God Bless the USA and our troops and help us destroy all the terrorists, especially Zarqawi and Bin Laden.

Richard Davis
Philadelphia, PA

Richard Davis on April 30, 2006 at 8:50 AM

In watching these animals, I thought: “Imagine if these fanatics were in charge of the Nation of Iran, and imagine if they were armed with nuclear weapons.” I just want to ask the leftist loonies in this nation: “Now do you understand the gravity of the situation?”

Khyber Pass on April 30, 2006 at 9:20 AM

“they will not harm us if we do what they say, and we’ll be safely returned to the airport.”

We have to keep in mind that while someone may or may not have actually said something like this, it was the way the Government wanted hijackers handled at the time, and the airlines were non-confrontational as a matter of policy. If it had been a “normal” hijacking, and passengers or crew took action, and innocent people were killed, those taking the action could have been subjected to any number of criminal or civil actions. And the Government, the liberal press, and greedy trial lawyers wouldn’t have hesitated to pile on.

Khyber Pass on April 30, 2006 at 9:29 AM

I did not get to go out and see the film yesterday.
I had thought I could not go and see it.
But sitting here and flipping through the channel. I got just the ending of the film as the passengers were ramming the cockpit door and onto the end of the film.
My stomach hurts, my head hurts and I could hardly breathe, watching.
Now, I know, I will have to see the film, the rest of the film.
I’ve seen and had plenty of trauma in my life – plenty of us have. But it’s important for all of us Americans to see this film and to be united in a spirit of zeal that we will do whatever it takes to defeat this evil enemy.
It is really frightening to me, the people in this country who are not afraid, are accepting of these evil terrorists and make apologies and want to tear down the president and how he is trying to protect us. It is frightening.
The only thing I can think is – I truly believe that God is in control of this world, even the evil, and we are to resist this evil with his help, with his Holy Spirit.
God help us! Amen!

Truth Defender on April 30, 2006 at 4:12 PM

I have just returned from seeing United 93 and it should be compulsory viewing for everyone in this country and the film should be sent to every U.S. military base foreign or domestic as a reminder of why we fight. It is a stark reminder of the evil that confronts us. I know that there was poetic license taken because nobody knows the exact details of what happened on 93, but I thought it was interesting when the lead hijacker taped a photo of the Capitol building in the cockpit so as to identify his intended target. I can’t help but thinking how our Senators and Congresscritters might be behaving a little differently today if United 93 had achieved its objective. Thanks to these American heroes, Certain members of Congress can play make believe. And they do. Remember John Kerry’s more nuanced war on terror? And Harry Reid boasting that they’d defeated the Patriot Act?

One other strikingly tense moment was when they flashed between the muslim hijackers praying on the plane, the terrified Christians reciting the Lord’s Prayer, and Catholics reciting the rosary in a battle of religions.

This was an outstanding piece of work.

Go. See. This. Film.

pistolero on April 30, 2006 at 7:43 PM

I saw it Friday night and can say it is the only movie I have ever seen that I have absolutely no criticism of. It was exactly how it should have been.

While it was odd for me to watch the terrorists reading the Koran and praying and preparing to do what they did, but it is certainly realistic. Is was intense, misplaced religious zeal that led to the hijackings. That honesty was necessary in the movie.

Greengrass’s film is appropriately respectful and painfully honest. The audience applauded afterward in the theater I watched it in.

If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to.

PunditPrincess on April 30, 2006 at 8:31 PM

I would think having absolutely no criticism of any work of art could mean you may not be critical enough. This was a movie that billed itself as an “as accurate as possible’ portrayal of the event aboard United 93.

So when the hijacker pulled out what looked to be a three inch blade, I was truly disappointed. It is widely known the hijackers had nothing more than boxcutters and fake bombs. The problem is, boxcutters are exactly that–meant to cut boxes and not at all threatening looking. I can just see the director when they started with boxcutters, saying something like “Gee those things just don’t look threatening enough. Somebody get me a three inch blade.”

So for me at least, taking any liberty with the details leaves me to wonder what other liberties the script takes.

But the biggest thought I came away with from watching the first local showing (My plates say LS ROLL, the frame says “My other hero is a Beamer, Todd”) is that a much more relevant movie could have been made starring James Woods AS HIMSELF.

Why? Because, although not widely known, James Woods was flying first class some weeks before 9/11 and sat amongst a group of men whom he believed were there to plan a hijacking!

So when this actor who clocks in with Stanford Binet around 160, went to the authorities, they of course did not listen. How you write off the good faith beliefs of a well-known, highly articulate, intelligent professional is the real story of incompetence at the highest levels of law enforcement that allowed 9/11 to happen.

For scene segway, go to Minnesota and the frustrated local FBI agents who weren’t even allowed to apply to a magistrate for a search warrant because ever since the cross-dresser ran the place, all decisions were and still are, made at headquarters.

Sure, the reality was the flight controllers were caught off-guard. And maybe that’s high drama. But no matter how hard you root, that ending is a foregone conclusion.

Now the Woods movie? The happy ending? It would be the epilogue where all the dead wood from all the worthless law enforcement bureacracies that allowed this tragedy to happen are listed as having been fired or force retired.

Sadly though, as far as I know, that epilogue, as of today, would be over quicker than the popcorn subliminal the theater snuck in during the movie previews.

The dead wood never did go up in smoke. Heads never rolled. Maybe a movie about the incompetency of law enforcement at the highest levels that allowed this to happen would be more useful than Flight 93 in preventing anything remotely like this from happening again in the future.

atbay on April 30, 2006 at 10:35 PM

I’m not sure I’m happy with this movie. The idea of just presenting the facts from a purely neutral standpoint smacks of a watered down liberal nihilism to me. Is the truth really neutral? Don’t we all have to continuously debate and confirm and support the truth?

I heard the Rush Limbaugh interview with the director of this movie and I thought it was interesting that Rush had to ask him what was his point of view of terrorism and terrorist. Hmmmm…shouldn’t that have been obvious from his movie?

Still feeling there’s something wrong with this film…

budugirl on May 3, 2006 at 2:39 PM


Netanyahu cited assimilation and intermarriage as the main reasons for the statement on Thursday. He cautioned American financial supporters of the IDF Nahal hareidi program to work especially against assimilation in their communities.

EFG on October 6, 2006 at 6:31 PM

I myself am terrified that the MSM ho’s will paint all conservatives as “birthers”, mainly because I’m still in therapy after being included in a group of people variously referred to as bitter, Bible thumpers, hyper partisan clingers, warmongers, religious weirdos, American Taliban, gun nuts and doltish-mouth breathers-who-voted-for-Dumbya Bushitler.

I’m not sure my delicate psyche could take another hit. I think I’ll just put a Hopey-Change bumper sticker on the truck and join the approved masses.

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Bishop on January 27, 2012 at 2:48 PM

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