United 93 (15)



Thriller (2006)
110mins Fr/UK/US

Starring: JJ Johnson, David Alan Basche, Khalid Abdalla
Director: Paul Greengrass
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

On September 11, 2001, the world as we know it was changed forever. The events in New York City that fateful autumn still resonate today, and are a stark reminder of mankind's terrifying capability for destruction. This harrowing recreation of events on United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth hijacked plane, unfolds in real time, beginning with the plane being delayed on the runway at Newark airport. By the time the flight finally takes off, the three other planes have hit their intended targets. As passengers learn of the horrific events taking place on the ground, they realise that the flight is part of a co-ordinated attack.

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LondonNet Film Review

United 93
On September 11, 2001, I vividly recall standing in front of a television set, staring dumbfounded at CNN's live footage of the second airplane crashing into the south tower...

Passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 prepare their retaliation plan in the unflinching drama United 93 from writer/director/producer Paul Greengrass.  2006 Universal Pictures InternationalConfusion and disbelief gradually turned to horror and despair as the full scale of the tragedy became apparent. On a seemingly ordinary autumn morning, the world as we knew it had changed forever. Those same chilling television images, now seared into our collective consciousness, replay in Paul Greengrass's harrowing recreation of events on board the fourth hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93.

British filmmaker Greengrass has an enviable reputation for hard-hitting dramatizations of real-life tragedies, including Omagh, Bloody Sunday and The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence. With United 93, he excels again, drawing upon documented fact and the testimonials of the victims' families to create one of the most important, deeply affecting and emotionally devastating films you will see all year.

Events unfold in real time, beginning with scenes of the hijackers in their hotel rooms, preparing for their mission. "It's time," says one of them. Through an open window, we hear an airplane fly overhead. The camera glides through check-in and the departures lounge, lingering briefly on stewardesses as they board the craft. While the flight is delayed on the runway at Newark airport, Greengrass's cameras cut back and forth between the air traffic controls and the military operations centre in upstate New York.

By the time Flight 93 finally takes off (including a final glimpse of the twin towers through a window), the first two hijacked airplanes are en route to Manhattan. Very soon, there is chaos on the ground as controllers begin to realize that "potential hijackings" are part of a massive terrorist operation. On Flight 93, Captain Dahl (JJ Johnson) and First Officer Homer (Gary Commock) receive an urgent message: "Beware Cockpit Invasion. Two Aircraft Hit Trade Center".

The warning comes too late and the four hijackers take over the craft. As terrified passengers learn of the horrific events taking place in New York and at the Pentagon, they realise their flight is part of a coordinated attack. Confronted with an unimaginable, nightmarish situation, the strangers become allies in a daring plan to stop the hijackers, at any cost. Greengrass shoots the hijacking, and events on the ground, on handheld cameras, with a cast of largely unknown actors playing the passengers. Key military and civilian personnel, including Ben Sliney (the man in charge of the FAA's command centre), play themselves, adding to the unsettling air of realism.


The tension is unbearable. Even though we know, with sickening certainty, how the film will end, we pray for a different resolution. As the end credits roll, we are forced to question our own reaction to such a horrific turn of events, and thank God for the fortitude of the brave souls who lost their lives that day.

Sophie Abell


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Rest of UK and Irish Cinemas

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To Thursday 14th September

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From Friday 15th September
To Thursday 21st September

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