United 93 ★★★★
Presaging tomorrow’s 9/11 anniversary, Paul Greengrass’s tribute to the ordinary bravery of those aboard the only plane of four hijacked by terrorists on that horrible day that did not hit its target (the Capitol building in DC) is never less than terrifying, with little-known actors adding to the documentary realism that is the director’s stock in trade. An intelligent, respectful choice that never crosses the line into inappropriate melodrama, it builds tension from the mundane scenes of check-in to the very end. At the FAA command centre in Virginia, Operations Manager Ben Sliney delivers a remarkably assured performance as himself. We glimpse the second plane hit the South Tower from the safe distance of the control centre, and the iconic image is all the more breathtaking. The attempted passenger mutiny is almost unbearable to watch, but knowing the outcome does not reduce the tension. It’s showing again tomorrow on ITV4 on the anniversary itself.
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