Movie review of Flight 93
|Traditionally, audiences do not want to know how a movie will end before they can see how it begins. However, when it comes to films like the made for TV movie Flight 93, it is impossible to follow tradition. Viewers know exactly what will happen before the opening credits even begin. They know that United Flight 93 was the fourth hijacked plane on September 11 and they know that nobody survived. They also know that Flight 93 was the only plane to miss its presumed target due to the courage and resolve of the 44 passengers and crew members on board. What most people do not realize is that those 44 victims were not merely statistics; they were real people. Flight 93 does such a breathtaking job depicting these people that it does not matter that viewers know how the movie will end. In fact, the inevitable tragic ending is what compels viewers to clear away their tears long enough to see who these passengers were and what made each of them so remarkable.
From the start of the movie, viewers are reminded that each person on Flight 93 lived a unique life. As they wait for their flight, Lauren Grandcolas (Jacqueline Ann Steuart) flips through her book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Mark Bingham (Ty Olsson) runs through the airport and makes a happy phone call to say that he barely made his flight. Stewardess Sandy Bradshaw (Patricia Harras) reveals that she is only on this flight so that she can make it home in time for her son’s first birthday. Captain Jason Dahl (Barry W. Levy) changes his schedule to fly on an earlier flight so that he can surprise his wife with a trip to London for their anniversary. Everybody has a reason for being on the plane and nobody suspects that this day will be different from any other. However, the viewers know that this day is a tragic one and they must brace themselves as they see a close-up of each passenger’s boarding pass in a remarkable tribute to all of the passengers during the opening credits.
As the passengers and crew wait for their delayed plane to take off, the audience sees what they could not have possibly known. The World Trade Center has already been hit and America is realizing that something is horribly wrong. In a devastating twist of fate, Flight 93 takes off and begins the journey that will change these people’s lives and the world forever. Once the plane is safely in the air, the four terrorists tie red warrior sashes around their heads and prepare to engage in battle against the unsuspecting people who are just trying to live their lives. It is not until the plane is hijacked that anybody on Flight 93 knows that a problem even exists. The preliminary parts of the hijacking take place in mere minutes that seem to drag on for hours. A man is stabbed, the pilots are murdered, and the terrorists break into the cockpit. All the while, the passengers are rushed to the back of the plane where they are told that there is a bomb onboard and they will only live if they can sit down and stay quiet. At first, the passengers and flight crew attempt to do just that. However, it does not take long for them to realize that this is not a hostage situation; it is a suicide mission.
Soon the passengers and crew begin calling their loved ones to obtain information, share their love, or simply say goodbye. Tom Burnett (Jeffrey Nordling) calls his wife and tells her to contact the authorities. When he calls her back, she tells him that the Pentagon has also been hit. This knowledge that would have been impossible to gather if the plane had left on time rapidly spreads amongst the passengers. Knowing that three other airplanes have been hijacked and flown into American landmarks, the passengers realize that they must stop the terrorists or the same thing will happen to them. This leads to a flurry of emotional phone calls that were later used for the families and the governments to piece together the puzzle of what actually happened on Flight 93.
In a remarkable display of faith and courage, the passengers and the flight crew decide that they must fight back if they want a chance to live. They gather soda cans, pots of boiling water, and anything else they can find to disable the terrorists. As the United States government awaits confirmation on whether or not they should shoot the plane down, the heroes storm the cockpit. The plane soon crashes and the ending is left open for viewers to draw their own conclusions. As was the case in reality, the plane could have crashed while the passengers fought for control or it could have been shot down. In either case, the crash left no survivors – not even the enormous 757 plane itself.
Though viewers already know the story before watching Flight 93, that does not make it any less devastating. In the span of an hour and a half, audiences feel as if they personally know all of the people on the plane along with the loved ones that they left behind. Even the terrorists are depicted as people. They are not glorified, but they clearly display human traits of anxiety, nervousness, and fear. All of the passengers’ emotions are depicted so perfectly that viewers do not simply see how they felt; they feel it. This aspect of forming an emotional bond with the characters is further exemplified by the fact that an unknown cast of actors plays in this movie. Unlike the higher budget Hollywood film United 93 (2006), the emphasis of this movie is not on the what; it is on the who. That is the beauty of this movie. Much like the civilian soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save so many others, this cinematographic tribute will live in infamy.