With the theatre release of this film about 9/11 began the debate about whether it was too soon to release a film about this tragic day. It also struck some as odd that it was not an American who was going to direct the film, but rather British director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, Bloody Sunday). Once the public and critics alike saw the film all our worries were shown to be unfounded. When a film is done with such grace, tact and skill then it is never too soon and Greengrass demonstrated the human nature of the film. The tragedy was felt worldwide and was not just limited to Americans.
The film deals with the fourth airplane that was taken hostage on September 11, 2006. Due to a large delay in their takeoff, the plane was far behind the others that were taken hostage and so the 40 or so passengers on board came to know their fate. The 4 terrorists force a flight attendant to open the door to the cockpit and proceeded to kill the pilot and co-pilot. Once they take over the flying of the plane the passengers began to secretly use their cell phones to phone their loved ones. During these conversations they were told about the other planes that had been crashed into the World Trade Center, so they began to realize that it was not a simple hijacking. It begins to become apparent to them that this plane will never land. Members of the 40 passengers began to concoct a plan in order to save hundreds or thousands of others from dying.
Watching this film which plays in real time is difficult and moving, but so important that it almost should be required watching. Greengrass and all the actors who depict the people on the flight all take great pains to make sure that the film is accurate, honest and does not shy away from what actually happened on that day. We not only see what is happening on the plane itself, but there are many scenes happening in the control towers of different airports and on military bases. We see what happened mistakes made and all. It is often frightening to see how unprepared and helpless the 'officials' were. The film really goes a long way into showing true heroism and courage by real life people in a terrible situation. Somehow this film reinstilled my belief in the goodness and power of human beings. Odd as that may seem when given the subject.
-United 93: The Families and The Film