May 13, 2006

"United 93" thoughts

Last evening me, Mrs. Hube, Ryan of JTTR, Paul Smith Jr., Miss A.O., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Levin Fan and Mrs. Anna Venger all got together to see "United 93." Some of my colleagues at work had seen it, and the one comparision -- that the whole movie is like the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" -- made me think "Whoa."

I didn't find the film quite that intense, but once the terrorist acts became evident, that's when the film's grit really kicked in.

There are no big names in the movie; indeed, many of the actual folk involved in air control and the military play themselves. That's fairly obvious from the beginning as one should notice that the acting quality isn't exactly of the typical Hollywood variety. But don't let this deter you -- in many ways this adds to the realism.

For me, the most aggravating part was the total and utter confusion of the air traffic controllers, the FAA, the military and the upper echelons of government. The military couldn't get fighter jets scrambled, and when they finally did, the jets headed in the wrong direction and ... had no weapons! There was actual discussion of the fighters ramming an suspected airliner and the pilot ejecting! In addition, the flight that first hit the World Trade Center was, for the longest time, believed to be heading towards Washington. The military, in particular, had no idea it had slammed into the north tower. Eventually, the head honcho of US air traffic, realizing the mass befuddlement, orders all flights across the country to land.

Unlike the made-for-TV "Flight 93," this version focuses only on those inside the hijacked aircraft (aside from scenes at various air traffic controls). The TV film showed the relatives of the plane's passengers as they fielded the many phone calls made, and to me that was a distraction.

The terrorists were not portrayed as gung-ho, intensely focused automatons. They were shown to be edgy, skittish, and indeed, having almost second thoughts about the mission, especially when the flight is delayed in leaving Newark (NJ) airport. In this regard -- I don't know, and maybe this is my post-9/11 perception thinking -- it was ... unnerving how no one took notice of the obviously agitated and angry-looking middle eastern men scattered about the [sparsely] populated first class cabin. But, we'll never know how they actually behaved.

The apparent lead terrorist (who ends up flying the plane) is shown to be the most indecisive. Eventually, seemingly fed up with the lack of decision and action, the terrorist who wields the fake bomb makes his move to the lavatory to strap on said ersatz device. Soon after, the other three make their move on the pilots, and take control of the jet.

We're led to believe the plane's target was the White House (the terrorist pilot places a picture of it on the "dashboard"), but we'll certainly never know if this is accurate. It does appear certain, though, that Washington DC -- somewhere -- was the final destination.

If you plan on seeing the movie, just prepare yourself to run the gamut of emotions -- fear, frustration, anger, solace. And at the end, ask yourself if you could have done what those onboard the flight did.

I want to add that it was a genuine pleasure meeting for the first time Miss Anonymous Opinion, Mrs. Anna Venger, and Mrs. Mark Levin Fan, in addition to seeing Paul, Ryan and Mark Levin Fan once again. Special thanks go to Mrs. (and Mr.) Venger for hosting a get-together at their place afterwards. Much appreciated!

* Anna Venger's post is here.
* Ryan's at JttR is here.
* Anonymous Opinion's review is here.
* Paul Smith Jr.'s critique is here.

Posted by Hube at May 13, 2006 10:05 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I'm pretty sure the picture on the dashboard was of the Capitol. But I'm very tired (~3 hours fo sleep last night, we didn't leave the Venger's abode until after 1 AM) so maybe my memory's bad.

I should have my review up by the end of the weekend.

Posted by: Paul Smith at May 13, 2006 10:41 AM

Yes, it was the Capitol building.

Posted by: Ryan S. at May 13, 2006 10:50 AM

DOH! You guys are correct. What the hell was I thinking. Didn't have enough coffee yet.

Sorry 'bout that!

Posted by: Hube at May 13, 2006 11:16 AM

Great job, Hube. Good use of facts. I think I reacted more viscerally throughout, processing emotions primarily. I too wonder if I would have been as brave as the United 93 passengers were. Loved the get together afterwards. So glad you all followed me home! Everyone's welcome anytime.

Posted by: Anna Venger at May 13, 2006 01:29 PM

Thanks Hube! We had a great time meeting all of you. The movie was far more emotional than I thought it would be. I was nervous throughout the whole thing. Then the scene where passengers called their loved ones to say goodbye really broke me up. That movie should win best picture, but I know it won’t.

Posted by: MarkLevinFan at May 15, 2006 02:14 PM

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