It is the most devastating movie I've ever seen.
Only "The Passion" has affected me as deeply - that devasted me in a different way (conviction of my sin).
I've read and watched a lot about September 11 and especially United 93, but that did nothing to blunt the impact of the movie. This movie puts you on the plane and in the air traffic control center. You experience that day though those who lived it because the movie maker was meticulous in learning about the facts of the day, the people involved, and a number of people in the movie are the people who lived it. (I don't know how they relived it, but I'm thankful they did for our sake.) And the actors are unknowns so no one stands out. You live through it through all their eyes as they struggle to comprehend something that had never happened before.
Some have worried about a backlash against Muslims, that the movie would ignite hatred. While the movie has moral clarity, it also doesn't objectify the terrorists. They are humans. They appear nervous and even frightened at times, but determined. I felt angry at what they did, but I also felt such sadness that they believed a lie that would motivate them to do that. God metes out the final justice, not us.
We learned after September 11 that the co-pilot on American Airlines 11, the first plane to be flown into the towers, was Tom McGuinness, someone who grew in his spiritual life in part because of STR. So there has been a more personal connection for me since then. Though that flight isn't the main focus on the movie, I thought about Tom as they began to track this first flight to go astray.
The passengers on United 93 aren't glorified in the movie. They are shown as they were, average people. And the decision to take on the terrorists isn't momentous - it's decent people who grasped their circumstances and resolved to do what had to be done. Their heroism is understated, but real. They were people fighting determinedly for their lives, and for those they knew were the target of their plane. They just did what they had to do. And that was monumental.
I went to the movie on a Friday afternoon and I wondered who my fellow movie-goers were figuring it wasn't your average movie audience to see this movie on the day it opened. We weren't there for entertainment. I noted, too, that there were an unusual number of people there who'd come alone, as I had. I'm not sure what all that means, but I think it means something about the people there. And oddly, not long after I left the movie theater it had to be evacuated because of some gas that was released. (Don't know right now what it was.)
This is clearly the best movie I've seen in a long time. I'm not familiar with the movie-maker's work, but he clearly is the man to have made this movie. I can't imagine it having been made better. The movie isn't sensational, sentimental, or maniputative. It's reality.
I really hope people don't avoid going to see it because it's upsetting. Sometimes we should be upset. It's the appropriate response. And this is a story it's worth being upset over.