There are really two ways to judge the new movie United 93. The first is as a historical accounting, the second is as "entertainment" or "art". While not mutually exclusive they are perforce in conflict at certain stages. The review by the Washington Post chooses to focus on the former to an obsessive degree. I want to address that first, and then delve further into the other aspects of this excellent movie.
The headline for the WP article could not be more stark: ‘United 93’ movie includes invented details. Note the pejorative term "invented", as in made up, implying false, instead of "speculative" as in unknown to be true, but possible. The latter is more factual, but when have the MSM let mere facts get in the way of trashing America? Some examples of these "invented" details:
The film asserts that the hijackers' intended target was the Capitol. In one scene, Ziad Jarrah, the Lebanese terrorist who piloted the plane, props a picture of the building on the cockpit's console, imposing a cinematic answer to a question that the 9/11 Commission could not resolve: whether the terrorists were trying to hit the Capitol or the White House. Investigators said that point was a source of contention among the 9/11 plotters, with Osama bin Laden favoring a strike on the White House and others, including Mohamed Atta, favoring the Capitol.
Aside from accentuating the trivial (does it really matter which building was the intended target?), this is a perfect attack against which there is no defense. Had the director/producer, etc. chosen the Whitehouse instead, the exact same argument would have been leveled. Had the target remained unstated, though, the entire thrust of the attack on United 93 would have been left ambiguous. Was the intended target Government or civilian? Or was it even a military target?
Given that there are those on the Left and in the Media who have tried to claim that the Pentagon was a legitimate target because of its military connections, this is not a trivial matter. The consensus is that the intended target was either the Capitol or the Whitehouse. Due to the courageous acts of the passengers of United 93, we will never know which one of those the pilot would have chosen, and, frankly, it doesn't matter.
"United 93" also suggests that the terrorists killed the pilot and co-pilot, for example, but what occurred is unclear.
As a point of fact the hijackers did kill both the pilot and the co-pilot, as well as all of the passengers and themselves. Perhaps they did not kill them immediately, but there can be no doubt that they did kill them. Is the author afraid that the terrorists will look like blood-thirsty monsters? Um, they were blood-thirsty monsters. They and their accomplices killed thousands of innocent people, and intended to kill who knows how many more.
Again, it is a detail that has no real bearing on the actual events. Surely the author doesn't intend to imply that if the passengers would have just cooperated, then the Islamofascist terrorists would have let the pilots (who were so well treated) resume command of the plane? Well, actually, he does seem to want to imply that:
A United 93 flight recorder picked up the terrorists ordering someone repeatedly to "sit down" and discussing whether to "bring the pilot back" late in the hijacking.
He goes on to complain:
"United 93" also shows the passengers breaching the cockpit with a beverage cart and wrestling the terrorists for control as the plane plummets. Although the 9/11 report states that the passengers fought back in the flight's final moments, the commission had no indication that the passengers entered the cockpit. The report suggests the opposite: "The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them."
Um, we don't know that they didn't breach the cockpit, but everyone agrees that the passengers "...were only seconds from overcoming [the pilots]" when they rammed the plane into the ground. There is not a whole lot of wiggle room there.
So where is this cat going with this? Well, perhaps knowing the author's name will shed some light: his name is Paul Farhi. At the very least he is sympathetic to Islam, and if this article is indicative, he is sympathetic to Islamic Terrorists as well. The gist of the article is that the Americans were portrayed as heroic, the terrorists as bad (really cowardly, but he doesn't mention that), and that this is somehow wrong because every little detail might not have happened exactly the way it was shown on the screen.
It wasn't sufficiently nuanced to show the terrorists as heros to their culture. Hate that for them.
As "entertainment", the movie is what it is. The subject matter is very somber. No one will vote United 93 the "feel-good" movie of 2006. But it is an American movie through and through. As the horror unfolds and the passengers come to realize that they aren't going back to the airport, they aren't going to get out of this alive no matter what they do, a steely resolve creeps through the aisle. From an elderly woman who gives her cell phone to the young girl next to her so she can say good-bye to her family, to the martial artist who almost gleefully declares that he will break the arm of the bomb-wielding terrorist, these people step up as Americans and decide that if they are going to die, they'll at least make it count.
They won't let the terrorists kill anyone else on the ground. If they can't save themselves, at least they can stop the terrorists from completing their perverted mission. And as their confidence and resolve grows, the terrorists sense it, and become increasingly afraid of their "hostages" until the passengers rise up, defeating first the terrorists in the cabin, and then storm the cockpit.
Leaving the terrorists to crash the plane in a futile act of defiance. I say futile, because the passengers succeeded in their mission. No one trained them. No one prepared them for it. They didn't believe that they were going to be mystically translated into heaven for their success.
They knew they were going to die. So they made it count. It doesn't really matter if it was the Whitehouse or the Congress or anything else that was the "target", because the real target was America. On that fateful morning they decided to step up and defeat the enemies of America before most of the rest of us even knew we were at war.
That makes them heros.
And no after-action nit-picking by the fifth-column fourth estate will change that.
[/Endeth the Sermon]