In what was the first big-screen movie to dramatize the events of 9/11, director Paul Greengrass tried mightily not to politicize anything, but merely to present what happened with as much documentary-like realism as possible. To that end, he shot the story of United Flight 93 in an actual 757, with handheld cameras and largely unknown actors playing the hijackers and passengers, as well as casting actual airline workers and air traffic controllers (including some who were on duty on 9/11) as the ground personnel responding to the hijacking.
As a result, the movie’s depiction of the cockpit takeover, followed by the passenger uprising that forced the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field instead of a Washington, D.C. landmark, doesn’t feel like any other airplane-hijacking thriller. The movie is thoroughly unnerving and even suspenseful, even though viewers already know how it all will play out. Seven years after its release, and 12 years after the actual events, United 93 still makes for tough viewing.