Starring: Christian Clemenson, David Alan Basche, J.J. Johnson, Khalid Abdalla Director: Paul Greengrass Category: IIA (English and Arabic) Shorn of melodrama and a star-studded cast, United 93 opened with much less fanfare in the US than Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. But this very lack of artifice is its strength. UA93 was the only hijacked plane that missed its target during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Reprising the gritty docu-drama approach he perfected four years ago with Bloody Sunday, Paul Greengrass tells the story of the ill-fated flight almost in real time, from the crew's mundane pre-departure preparations, to the banal small talk of the passengers, the terrorists' takeover, and the crash into an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Interspersed with the action on board are scenes at civil and military control centres as the attacks begin on the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and (what was UA93's target) Capitol Hill. Several air-traffic controllers re-enact their experiences that day, and the disbelief, dismay and disarray echoes that onboard UA93. Aviation officials scramble for information and debate whether to bar all air traffic. Military officials make repeated, frantic attempts to track down George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for approval to bring down the airliner if it continues on course for its target. Greengrass' view of the tragedy is that these leaders were unreachable when their country needed their leadership most. (United 93 also punctures the White House's claim that the passengers gave their lives to save Capitol Hill.) United 93 is filled with tension - knowing what will happen, the most mundane gestures and the most banal dialogue take on almost oppressively symbolic meaning. That both the terrorists and the passengers and crew are portrayed without context adds to the claustrophobic fear. United 93 offers a way to understand September 11 as human tragedy. The absence of analysis doesn't dim its poignancy - rather, it leaves ample room for reflection about our own anxieties and views of the world.