starring Lewis Alsamari, JJ Johnson, Trish Gates, Polly Adams
written and directed by Paul Greengrass
by Walter Chaw I guess when you talk about a movie like Paul Greengrass's United 93, you have to talk about the propriety of the project: Whether death, fear, and suffering at its most obscene is something we should try to know or gratefully shield ourselves from. Should 9/11 already be an Oprah special and a national holiday? It's an essential question, a defining one--and on either side of the question's divide, you'll find one person who thinks we should see our soldiers' caskets draped in American flags and another who feels that seeing war casualties is somehow bad for morale or, if our fearless leaders are to be believed, somehow unpatriotic. Ignorance is as blissful now as it ever was--it's one aphorism the film honours. Another is that you reap what you sow: The belief that our civil liberties, for which we eagerly fight and die to protect on foreign soil, are the first things we seem to sacrifice in times of peril (including a vocal rabble wondering if we're "ready" for a 9/11 film), is far stickier when the proposition before us is that Islamic extremists don't like us because of that which defines us as Americans. ("They hate our freedom" is the party line.) So when our government begins to infringe on our personal freedom after a meticulously organized and coordinated terrorist attack took us completely unawares (I still recall with a shudder how then-Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice claimed that no one could have imagined it) more than four years ago, that means--more than over twenty-one hundred military dead (and counting) does--that we've already lost.