United 93 is a thankfully unsentimental recreation of what happened on the only hijacked passenger airliner that did not reach its target on the day that changed the world.
Paul Greengrass brings a very documentary-like approach to the story, making it feel very much like a reconstruction rather than a drama. It has exactly the same mix of the everyday and the utterly surreal that marked that fateful day, and the footage of the World Trade Centre gave me the same hollow, empty and slightly nauseous feeling I had at the time. There are no Hollywood style “heroes” or irrelevant soap opera concerning the lives of the passengers; it merely provides an accurate – as far as the known facts fit – depiction of what happened on the plane when the passengers realised what was happening and decided to do something about it. The extreme sense of realism is helped by the minimalist score and lack of famous faces, although I have to say that even the sight of David Rasche – hardly a big name celebrity – did compromise the illusion somewhat for me.
You do spend a little too much of the first hour looking at people looking at computer screens, but the final twenty minutes show the terror and desperation of the situation in a totally believable way and is therefore very intense and emotionally affecting.