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Sunday, April 6, 2014

United We Stand...

I had deterred watching this movie ever since its release way back in 2006. But after watching his Captain Phillips, I told myself that enough was enough and I wasn’t going to be scared anymore. I don’t know if scared is the right word for it. Every time I think of this movie, I am taken over by myriad emotions. Dread, I think is the primary one. Because I know the ‘story’, so I know how the movie will end. Paul Greengrass’s United 93 does not have a happy ending unlike Captain Phillips.
Fifteen minutes into the movie, I see the captain of the flight United Airlines 93 announce what beautiful a day it is to be flying and I am thinking what irony! I believe the script was written that way to portray the irony, but somehow it got stifling and difficult to watch. And then the plane takes off, and I know this is the last journey that United 93 will ever make. United 93 is a movie about the dreadful 9/11 attacks on American soil. But the focus is on one particular flight, United Airlines number 93, the only one of the four airplanes hijacked which failed to reach its destination. While its destination can now no longer be confirmed, it is widely assumed that it was headed to strike either the White House or the Capitol Building. But it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, owing to a revolt in the plane when some passengers tried to regain control of the plane.

So there, you know the story once again because you know the ‘story’ from the news report.  I don’t know how many of you would want to watch the movie now. It took me eight years to find the appropriate courage and the right frame of mind to sit down and watch the film. I got goose bumps several times during the movie. I don’t know why; I am not particularly fond of America.  Or Americans. I guess the humane part in me had a difficult time coping up in general. 

The action takes place when we are well into the movie, almost an hour into the film. The air traffic jargon however can bore you at times, and I at times lost concentration. But it adds to the authenticity of the movie. While at the same time it is relevant because that is how the audience is made privy to the news of the hijacking of the other three air planes, something that the passengers of United 93 get to know much later. Greengrass’s signature style of shooting with hand-held cameras makes the audience feel included in United 93’s bumpy ride all along the way. 

The one thing that I found utterly ridiculous, bordering on it being ludicrous was the red bandannas. As the terrorists gain control of the airplane, two of them manage to find time to don red bandannas on their head. Yes, yes, we all know it signifies Viva la Revolucion, but it was very John Rambo-ish and I think Greengrass could have totally avoided the whole red bandanna spectacle.

Human courage never fails to amaze me. It comes in all shapes and sizes. We are reminded of that when the passengers try to regain control of the plane. They battle it out with two of the terrorists and overpower them. It was one of most brutal onscreen deaths that I have come across recently. But then again, when the primal instinct of survival takes over, man is capable of doing anything.  

The closing scene is brilliant and I am going to be very tight lipped about that. Ironically I had caught only the last scene of the movie eight years back and that had what intrigued me about the movie. But it also scared me which is why I had been procrastinating watching it for so long.

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