It’s natural to hesitate before committing yourself to sitting through a movie about a September 11 hijacking. You feel your stomach tighten in an unusual way during the first few scenes of United 93, as the crew boards the plane, casually exchanging details about their personal lives, and the passengers converge at the gate in the familiar restless positions of travelers impatient to get on their way.
There’s a history of movies about famous disasters, some of which, like the 1958 British film about the Titanic, A Night to Remember, have been made with sensitivity and restraint. What’s different about this film is that every American who lays down ten bucks to see it lived through 9/11, and the tale of the passengers who successfully wrested the plane away from al-Qaeda hijackers but died in the process hasn’t had a chance to solidify into myth. So, whether for good or bad, seeing United 93 is destined to be a raw experience.