United 93


Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39

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Critic Reviews

  1. Greengrass has made not only a thoroughly fact-checked film but a film that uncontrovertibly comes from the heart.
  2. Brilliant, tightly focused, and momentous.
  3. 100
    Greengrass’s movie is tightly wrapped, minutely drawn, and, no matter how frightening, superbly precise.
  4. 100
    United 93 is powerful not only in the way it provides hope through the actions of a few unlikely heroes, but in its ability to take us back through time to a day many of us would prefer not to remember, but will never forget.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    An unflinching, powerfully visceral and haunting portrait of the tragic events aboard one of the terrorist-commandeered flights on the fateful morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
  6. 100
    May be the most wrenching, profound and perfectly made movie nobody wants to see.
  7. 100
    It is the highest compliment I can pay Greengrass to say that he is a master of the mundane, the routine and the everyday.
  8. 100
    Far from being exploitive, the effect is inspiring: This is the best of us.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The controversial film that is unbearable--and unmissable.
  10. What United 93 demonstrates, as if we needed proof, is that it is too soon - it may always be too soon - to sort out the feelings from that day.
  11. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Quite remarkably, though, its clear-eyed view of an unprecedented American tragedy leaves us with emotions that audiences of those earlier days would readily recognize -- love of country, bottomless grief, an appreciation of life's preciousness and fragility. A film that can do this and also teach is to be cherished. And seen. It's time.
  12. 100
    You’re unlikely to come across a more powerful film this year.
  13. 100
    One of the most harrowing, viscerally upsetting films ever made.
  14. The superb United 93, from the British writer-director Paul Greengrass, does not waste time defining the undefinable. Nor does it strain for poetry when, with this story, prose is enough.
  15. It's Greengrass' way of asking a question that looms large in these post-9/11 days: Are we all praying to the same God, or is one man's God better than another, and one man's God vastly more terrifying?
  16. 100
    This is a masterful and heartbreaking film, and it does honor to the memory of the victims.
  17. 100
    There's no cheap uplift to their victory, no pop catharsis. What's great about United 93 is that you never feel it's just a movie - even though, as a movie, it's terrific.
  18. 100
    I am here to tell you that Greengrass has fashioned one of the most powerful films I have ever seen, and that watching it makes you value your loved ones and your privileges more, perhaps, than you ever have. He has made a film that makes you feel, makes you think and makes you want to connect. And that, finally, might be the greatest thing that art can do.
  19. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Impossible to recommend as a great Friday night out, yet agonisingly vital as thought-urging cinema.
  20. Pulling the bandage of sentiment cleanly away from oozing concepts like ''heroism'' and ''our nation's war on terror'' in the aftermath of recent wounds, here's a drama about the most politically charged crisis of our time that grants the dignity of autonomy to every soul involved.
  21. A respectful, accomplished, non-exploitative piece of historical filmmaking and -- for audiences -- a gripping white-knuckle ride all the way.
  22. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    The result is a tense, documentary-style drama that methodically builds a sense of dread despite the preordained outcome.
  23. 90
    United 93 unfolds with the terrible inevitability of a modern-day "Battle of Algiers," with Greengrass exerting superb control of tone, structure and pace...United 93 may be the best movie I ever hated.
  24. Instead of using actors, Greengrass employed many of the actual air traffic controllers and military commanders who were on the ground that day. Also aiding his film's universality is Greengrass' use of little known actors in the central roles, preventing stardom from affecting our ideas about heroism and patriotism.
  25. 88
    It's a long, brutal and honest look at a shattering event some Americans would apparently prefer not to see depicted - but also a respectful, inspiring one that's in no way exploitative or emotionally manipulative.
  26. I wouldn't recommend the movie to anyone, but if the families of the victims take something positive from it, as their cooperation with Greengrass suggests they do, that's justification enough.
  27. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The movie is hard going, not least in the sense of powerlessness it leaves in an audience that knows exactly what will happen. And yet you come out feeling that the filmmakers have done the right thing by these people, and by this day.
  28. 88
    There's nothing about United 93 that qualifies as entertainment in the traditional sense: It is an unpleasant, wrenching experience, which is just as it should be.
  29. 80
    Best understood as a memorial…Like most memorials, it is respectful, premised on competing obligations to the dead and the living, and eager to stress that the deaths were not in vain. It not only tells us we should never forget but also illustrates how we should remember.
  30. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    This is first-rate, visceral filmmaking, no question: taut, watchful, free of false histrionics, as observant of the fear in the young terrorists' eyes as the hysteria in the passenger cabin, and smart enough to know this material doesn't need to be sensationalized or sentimentalized.
  31. 80
    It's an expertly made picture that I wish I could stamp out of my mind. What's the value of artistry that sucks the life out of you?
  32. Intellectually, we know we should applaud the marvels United 93 has accomplished, and we do. But it is a film envisioned as a monument, a memorial tribute, and in our hearts we want something more. United 93 should have been made now, when memories and passions are still fresh, but it may play better in the future. If we have one.
  33. Greengrass takes pains to keep events believable and relatively unrhetorical, rejecting entertainment for the sake of sober reflection, though one has to ask how edifying this is apart from its reduction of the standard myths.
  34. 75
    We all lived through this not so long ago; it's an odd thing to make a film whose most striking effect is its ability to bring the feelings of Sept. 11 flooding back, then close on a profoundly disturbing note. A crasser film would have been easier to digest and dismiss. It's hard to do either with United 93, and that's either its genius or its folly.
  35. There's just nothing artful about it, and it's Greengrass who deserves the credit. These nonactors don't act the way most people do when playing themselves. They act the way people do when they're being themselves.
  36. Greengrass's reluctance to unduly demonize the villains or overly sentimentalize the victims is commendable on the surface, but it tends to blur the two sides and to mask the gulf that separates them.
  37. Its focus is purposely narrow. But that narrow focus, along with the lack of fully realized characters, and the absence of any historical or political context, raises the question of why, notwithstanding the usual (if shaky) commercial imperative, this particular movie was made.
  38. To see the flight captain and co-pilot checking the plane before takeoff, to watch the varied passengers settling into their seats, is more agonizing than watching passengers board the ship in all those "Titanic" films. With United 93 we see these people unknowingly stepping into a history that is still in terrible process. But as a work in (let's call it) the Akhmatova mode, it does not and could not succeed.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 360 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 27 out of 159
  1. NickA.
    Jun 29, 2007
    Paul Greengrass, acclaimed director of 'Bloody Sunday' and 'The Bourne Supremacy,' provides this film with intensity Paul Greengrass, acclaimed director of 'Bloody Sunday' and 'The Bourne Supremacy,' provides this film with intensity beyond climax; tautly and intoxicating retelling the events of the ill-fated journey of United Airlines flight 93, which would cease its travel in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Breaching my personal list of the "100 Greatest Movies Ever Made," Greengrass' '93' is easily the most emotionally strenuous film in a decade, leaving its viewers shocked and still and utterly silenced in horror by its conclusion, which, despite being a film of unparalleled quality, couldn Full Review »
  2. Aug 25, 2013
    This movie is ok. When the film goes to the people in the United 93 airplane is really good. But when it shows what happens down it's reallyThis movie is ok. When the film goes to the people in the United 93 airplane is really good. But when it shows what happens down it's really boring and it ruins the whole movie. In the ground the story is solid and seriously when the events happened it's like nobody really cared. But when we see the characters in the plane there is action and suspense Full Review »
  3. Feb 24, 2013
    This movie should have been a tribute to the heroes who gave their lives to save so many others on 9/11. Instead, they are portrayed asThis movie should have been a tribute to the heroes who gave their lives to save so many others on 9/11. Instead, they are portrayed as vigilantes who killed themselves. All they had to go on was the black boxes and the phone calls made from the plane, the rest is conjecture and, in my humble opinion, complete and absolute bull Nothing like this happened on that plane. They took a tragic story and hollywoodized it until it became a mockery. I was not impressed. Full Review »