There is absolutely nothing Hollywoodish about this movie--no grandstanding, no cheesiness. It comes across as if you simply have an invisible window into the normal, everyday events of the morning of September 11, 2001, and that window stays open as things go horribly wrong. It really did not feel to me as if I were watching a movie; I felt as if I were watching life.
You get no real introduction to any of the people portrayed. Yes, you learn a name here and there, but mostly, the people are anonymous; they're just people on a plane, people in Air Traffic Control, people at Norad. To call them characters, if you ask me, is actually an insult. It would have ruined this movie, if they had been characters. In fact, I think nine Air Traffic Controllers played themselves.
There was no music during this film that I noticed, only some drumming. That was good, because adding music would have been tacky. Background music would have made the whole thing like a typical Hollywood movie, and that would, I think, have distanced us from what was happening. Leaving music out was a brilliant way of handling this film.
I was pretty calm through most of the Air Traffic Control scenes, but the scenes on Flight 93 were harrowing after a certain point. I kept dreading that, at any moment, a terrorist would murder one of the passengers for calling home. I was amazed at how much the passangers were able to do, even with two terrorists trying to keep order in the fuselage.
I liked the way they portrayed the terrorists---very understated until the moment they decided it was time to take over the plane. I missed out on most of their dialogue because I couldn't read the subtitles, but I know a lot of it was them praying. I'm told that one of the actors playing a terrorist went to the initial screening of this film. A family member of one of the passengers went up to him, shook his hand, and said, "You were very brave to come here!"
In our theater, there was complete silence for several seconds after the film ended, and then we applauded. This film was a very, very fine remembrance and tribute.