Flight 93 (2006)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Docudrama, Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Jan 30, 2006 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - Canada , France , United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

This tight, no-frills TV docudrama bears many similarities to United 93, the feature film that reached theaters a few months after its premiere. It unfolds in real time and splits its focus between the passengers and crew of the doomed aircraft, their families on the ground, the air-traffic and airline personnel who watched the hijacking unfold, and the rural Pennsylvanians who saw the crash. Unlike the later film, however, Flight 93 uses professional actors rather than unknowns and benefited from less access to previously withheld source material. Nevertheless, the film sensitively and compellingly depicts September 11, 2001, as it might have played out for those aboard the only hijacked plane that did not reach its intended target. The drama is so built-in -- and so etched in the minds of pretty much everyone on the planet -- that writer Nevin Schreiner and director Peter Markle wisely let it speak for itself. This isn't an action movie, it's a tragedy -- one that doesn't need to be oversold, and isn't. Images of the World Trade Center falling have taken on a Zapruder-like cultural resonance, but the crash landing of United 93 has no such visual associations. Flight 93's filmmakers make the most of this opportunity, turning the airplane's descent into a restrained, hauntingly minimalist montage. The 2006 release of several TV and movie treatments of 9/11 prompted predictable media debate about whether it was appropriate to "go there" less than five years after the event itself. Flight 93's narrow focus on individual lives may not add much to our understanding of the terrorist attacks or their aftermath, but it does make for an affecting, cathartic drama.