Some may say it’s too soon, that the American public is not ready to relive the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the big screen. Others claim revisiting the horrific events wrought by four hijacked planes helps us remember why the United States is fighting a War on Terror.

The timeliness of “United 93” can be debated, but whoever goes to see Hollywood’s first major motion picture involving the attacks that changed the lives of all Americans should be prepared to leave the theater shaken.

Glenn Graves initially had trouble sharing his thoughts after seeing the docudrama of the passengers that took control of a hijacked plane and crashed it into a field near Shanksville, Pa., steering it clear of its intended target — the U.S. Capitol — and in the process saving the lives of an untold number of Americans.

Graves, of Lake Latonka near Mercer, knew some of those who died at the Pentagon when terrorists flew a plane into the nation’s defense headquarters. With tears forming in his eyes outside of Theater 4 at Shenango Valley Cinemas in Hermitage, he encouraged everyone to see the movie, to see the hatred of Sept. 11 tempered with the heroism of those aboard the plane intended to fly from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco before four terrorists forced their way into its cockpit.

“It shows the mentality of what we’re up against,” Graves said of the movie that opened nationwide Friday. “These are not people you can reason with.”

Graves and his 14-year-old son, Ryan, were among the dozen people who saw a matinee showing of the movie.

Ryan likewise shook his head in speechless silence when initially asked about the movie. After a few moments, he applauded the actions of those on board.

“I think if they didn’t do it, that more lives would have been lost,” the Lakeview eighth-grader said.

The movie begins before dawn on Sept. 11 with the four terrorists who hijacked United Flight 93 gathered in a hotel room in Newark, N.J. One of them is reading a prayer in Arabic.

It quickly moves to mundane airport activities. A stewardess complains of being tired. Passengers make last-minute calls on their cell phones outside the gate before boarding the plane. The pilot asks his co-pilot about his 11-month old son.

It’s a film that shows a bloody and timely chapter in this country’s history but, unlike fictional movies, there is no suspense in its ending.

“You were hoping it would end differently,” said Gary Hoyt, who saw the movie with his wife Lynda, “but you knew it wouldn’t.”

A largely unknown cast of actors plays the roles of the passengers who soon realize their plane is intended for another U.S. landmark after they learn through cell phone calls with friends and family that two planes have already crashed into the World Trade Centers, the New York City landmarks they could see out of one side of the airplane about an hour earlier when they took off from Newark, N.J.

Death is their only option. Many hurry to make phone calls to family members, to express their love and to say good-bye.

“Just tell them I love them. Tell my wife and boys that I love them,” one male passenger says into an air phone.

A group of passengers gather at the back of the plane before they storm the terrorists and gain control of the plane, severely beating them in the process.

“You got to admire the people that were on that plane,” Graves said. “I probably would have done the same thing because once you know what’s going on, what do you have to lose?”

Graves said he has traveled to the site near Shanksville where the plane crashed and he had a chance meeting with a woman who saw the plane nose dive into a field.

That is where the movie ends, with a fast-moving shot from the cockpit of an approaching green field. The screen then suddenly turns black.

Mrs. Hoyt, of Lake Latonka, also believes everyone should see the film.

“When would not be too soon?” she asked.

Universal Pictures is donating 10 percent of box office receipts from the movie’s opening weekend to The Families of Flight 93, a non-profit organization establishing a memorial at the site in Somerset County where the plane crashed.

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