Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. 100
    This is a masterful and heartbreaking film, and it does honor to the memory of the victims.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 100
    Far from being exploitive, the effect is inspiring: This is the best of us.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    100
    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.
  12. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    100
    One of the most harrowing, viscerally upsetting films ever made.
  13. 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?
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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?
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. A respectful, accomplished, non-exploitative piece of historical filmmaking and -- for audiences -- a gripping white-knuckle ride all the way.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Greengrass has made not only a thoroughly fact-checked film but a film that uncontrovertibly comes from the heart.
  27. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    The controversial film that is unbearable--and unmissable.
  28. 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.
  29. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    80
    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.
  30. 100
    Greengrass’s movie is tightly wrapped, minutely drawn, and, no matter how frightening, superbly precise.
  31. 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.
  32. 100
    May be the most wrenching, profound and perfectly made movie nobody wants to see.
  33. 100
    You’re unlikely to come across a more powerful film this year.
  34. 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.
  35. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    90
    The result is a tense, documentary-style drama that methodically builds a sense of dread despite the preordained outcome.
  36. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    100
    Impossible to recommend as a great Friday night out, yet agonisingly vital as thought-urging cinema.
  37. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    100
    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.
  38. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    100
    Brilliant, tightly focused, and momentous.
  39. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    40
    United 93, as grueling as it was to sit through, left me feeling curiously unmoved and even slightly resentful.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 326 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 26 out of 154
  1. Aug 25, 2013
    6
    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 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 »
  2. Mar 17, 2014
    10
    United 93 is one of the most emotionally moving, powerful films about 9/11; maybe even one of the most powerful, emotionally moving movies ever.

    Greengrass carefully avoids airplane movie clichés, as this would've taken away from the authenticity of the movie. Every moment of the movie is tense, and the last 10 minutes are masterfully crafted, intense shots. But the best part of the movie is how it is in no way exploitive; rather, it honors the victims of 9/11, and proves that the people on this flight were heroes.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 11, 2014
    10
    A tensely suspenseful movie with a smashing ending(literally), United 93 is a amazing movie to behold. the film weaves an intricate story about the infamous Flight 93, and what happened on it. Set against the backdrop of 9/11, United 93 follows the bravery and heroism of the deceased passengers of the fateful flight, as they fight a tense and suicidal battle against Al Qaeda hijackers. With skilled cinematography by Barry Ackroyd, and incredible directing by Paul Greengrass, United 93 is exciting, tense, and heartbreaking at the same time. Full Review »