On 11th September 2001, 44 people boarded Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. 33 were regular passengers. Seven were crew. Four were hijackers. As two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon, the citizens on board United Airways Flight 93 had to decide whether to sit tight or try to take back the plane. Writer/director Paul Greengrass sifts through the facts and theories to present what he thinks happened next, in United 93.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is one of the most upsetting films you will ever see. It's the everyday detail, the mundanity here, that is devastating. You watch as people board, order their breakfasts, sip their orange juice, chitchat - unaware of the four young men preparing to kill them all. When the hijackers finally make their move, it is a perverse relief; the build up, the tension, is horrifying.
Cutting between the plane and events on the ground, as the military and air traffic controllers try to deal with the unfolding crisis, the film is frighteningly claustrophobic. Greengrass' aim was to create a "believable truth" of what happened, based on the 9/11 Commission and interviews with passengers' families. Some people will view the film as history; some will attack it; some may try to make political capital out of it. It plays as an honourable attempt to confront something many would rather forget; it is emotionally raw yet unsentimental; it shows people at their most pained and inspirational; it is both brilliant and troubling.