Last night I rented United 93, a film I had had no desire to see. I was swayed by the number of British publications that voted it film of the year (or at least in the running). I should have trusted my instincts. The film has absolutely nothing to recommend it. Are UK critics demented? Or is there a more complex explanation for this grotesque miscarriage of taste? The film is dull, stodgy, self-important, and devoid of any suspense or excitement. It attempts to a be a raw, gritty doucmentary renactment of "what happened," but since no one knows exactly what that is, it is just a crock. The only reason it was so well-received, I'd wager, is because the subject matter (9/11, specifically the 4th airplane that did not reach its target due to the passengers overpowering the hijackers; it came down in Pennsylvania and everyone died) is regarded with such hushed reverence that the movie enjoyed a kind of critical immunity. But what on earth is so goddamn special about 9/11 or about a bunch of passengers dying to save the whitehouse (this hardly makes them heroes in my book!)? It is just one more incident of "tragic" mass death in a world rife with such incidents.
It's ironic that after the event, Hollywood movies about terrorism were considered both bad business and bad taste; six years later, a movie about the event its regarded as the height of taste, artistry, and good commercial acumen. But it is just another movie, and in fact, a lot duller and less riveting than any number of bomb-on-airplane type movies you could name. The very thing that it is being praised for (its excruciating "realism" and muggy air of reverence) is precisely what makes it so tedious.
I think the reason people remain so in awe of 9/11 and continue to regard it as some great tragedy is that for once, a global catastrophe had repercussions on their own personal lives; it made people feel threatened and insecure. Ironically, this is the one solid justification that (objectively) one might raise in defense of the terrorists' actions: that they intended (and briefly succeeded) to wake people up and make them question the kind of society they were living in and dependent on, and question their own lives, too. But people do not appreciate being disturbed in their zombie slumber, and I think the hatred and resentment of "terrorists" has as much or more to do with this fact than with any compasison for the "innocent" victims.
None of these questions are raised by United 93, of course. The film is arrogant and complacent enough to assume that its subject matter is of such profound interest to everyone that it does not need to dress it up with any kind of dramatic artistry or character depth or much of anything at all. It is like a channel 4 documentary renactment, drawn out to an endless two hours. There is absolutley nothing controversial or daring about the film, but for some reason it was greeted as a work of art. But what I saw was a crock of shit. Further confirmation that critics are not to be trusted. Avoid this film like the plague of political correctness that it is.