Thursday, April 27, 2006

Movie Review: Flight 93

U.S. Release Date: 1/30/06 (TV)
Running Time: 1:30
Rated: PG (Violence, emotional depiction of hijack situation)
Cast: Brennan Elliott, Kendall Cross, Ty Olsson, Monnae Michaell, April Telek, Laura Mennell, Jerry Wasserman, Gwynyth Walsh, Jacqueline Ann Steuart, Karen Holness, Marilyn Norry, Kirsten Williamson

Director: Peter Markle
Producer: Delia Fine, David Gerber
Screenplay: Nevin Schreiner
Music: Velton Ray Bunch
Studio: Fox Television Studios


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9/11/01 will most definitely be “a day [along with 12/7/41] that will live in infamy.” The events of this tragic day have deeply scarred every American citizen. However, amidst the catastrophic occurrences of September 11th, an unbounded sense of hope emerged and strengthened the U.S. as a country united. In particular, this hope was found in the heroic actions of the 45 passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93.

On that fateful day, 45 people climbed aboard United Airlines Flight 93 unbeknownst that it would soon become a terrorist weapon. These courageous souls were high-jacked, and as they learned of the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon, they quickly attempted to regain control of the plane in order to prevent another terrorist attack on the nation’s Capital. Prior to crashing in Somerset County, PA, nearly every passenger made a connection with a loved one—expressing their love and saying, “Goodbye” for the last time.

In particular, two connections are emotionally arresting—with one being when Deena Burnett (Kendall Cross) tries to call the authorities once she learns of the turmoil that her husband, Tom (Jeffrey Nordling), is enduring. The other is when Todd Beamer (Brennan Elliott) recites the Lord’s Prayer with a Verizon 911 employee.

As a made for TV movie, Flight 93 is a diamond in the rough. As a tribute to the plane’s passengers, crew, and their families, it is a venerable motion-picture. However, as a gut-wrenching, suspenseful, and dramatic motion-picture, Flight 93 comes up a bit short in measuring up to its Universal counterpart (United 93)—mainly due to its choppy closing and its lackluster special effects.

Instead of issuing a climax saturated with a dramatic sense of enlightenment, Flight 93’s conclusion drops the majority of the intensity that came before. Its point-of-view shot from an on-looking farmer, followed by a puff of black smoke and an obvious CGI crater, comes off as a weak cop-out compared to the brilliance of the conclusion of Universal Picture Studios’ United 93. Plus, the mere fact that the stewardess’ food cart – that the passengers used to rush the cockpit – is pictured as withstanding the impact of the crash, yet the body of the plane is completely destroyed, is borderline preposterous.

Nonetheless, with its faults, the A&E TV special, Flight 93, is an unforgettable ride and a powerful journey that is both respectful and tactful towards the brave it represents. All-in-all, Flight 93 is recommended viewing (in cohesion with the theatrical release, United 93) for every American; it’s worth every dime and the time invested. (*** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006