‘United 93’ could have been phenomenal if it were not for two things; Paul Greengrass’ obsession with shaky cam, and the fact that the film tried to make one of the hijackers seem remorseful or regretful, now obviously we can never know for certain if any of the hijackers had second thoughts but the fact that it is included this film meant that it put a bad taste in my mouth and lessened a powerful film.
That’s what ‘United 93’ is, it is a very powerful film, sometimes overshadowed by the quick cuts and shaky cam bullshit that while increase the sense of haste that surely the passengers would have about them, also pulls me out of the film. It really is a shame that Greengrass does insist on using shaky cam throughout the entire film as that is his biggest weakness and a mark against all of his films, at least in my eyes.
Greengrass however is fantastic at casting unknowns, he cast real Somalis for ‘Captain Phillips’ and for ‘United 93’ he not only cast unknown actors but he also cast people who were previously pilots or stewardess’ or air traffic control personnel which gives the film a genuine sense of realism and makes it that much more special. Speaking of the cast, everyone gives great performances and are thoroughly believable in their roles, they all just seemed so natural and it was perfect, the film fit together like a jigsaw but instead of seeing a picture I saw a genuine scenario.
The story is great too, very well written, excellent exposition, fast paced and clever use of dialogue and it is very interesting to see what, despite odds, a group of strangers can do together. All that plus it is based on an actual event makes it all the more fascinating and compelling to me.
Please Paul Greengrass, try to make a film without shaky cam, it could honestly work wonders for your films, think of all the gorgeous shots you are missing out on, flowing long shots, tight personal shots, panoramic establishing shots, there are so many tools at your disposal, put the handycams away for one film please.