Bravery. It's something United 93 has a man considering long into the following Thursday.
Early January 2007 and I'm watching United 93 for the fifth time, sat in the living room with an old blanket strewn about me and a bent cigarette dangling out the maw.
Every viewing, a whole new set of questions rises out the murk of the mind.
What would I have done in that situation? Would I have fought, would I have stormed up the aisle with the fire-extinguisher thrust this way and that, or would I have sat weeping into an in-flight magazine chewing on rosary beads and whispering Hare Krishna?
How many of the folks who died on that unholy morning did so whilst rejecting with all their hearts the counter-measures taken against the hijackers? How do we feel about those individuals? Are they heroes also?
Are there any heroes here?
Why is a film about the most horrendous, terrifying, tragic situation a man might imagine so exhilarating, so stirring, so life-affirming?
Part of the answer to the last, of course, is that no answers whatsoever are provided for any of the others.
United 93 is the best film of 2006 and the best of Greengrass' career thus far. It's probably the bravest, also.
"Oh aye?" says an ol' queen stood jabbing at the buttons of a poker machine in the far-end of the tavern later that evening. "And what's so brave about it, at all?"
"What's not brave about it?" says I, closing the notebook a moment. "That it goes out of its way to present the hijackers as human beings is in itself a fairly brave move."
"Human beings, is that right? Funny now, for all I saw were a bunch o' screeching yahoo's racin' about the place with red headbands on. They were caricatures."
"No they weren't, and here's why. For all of the Hard Man posturing they might've employed once they'd gained control of the plane, United 93 never once suggests that these people aren't fucking terrified, at least as terrified as the people they're bent on killing. They're terrified but they go ahead anyway, and why? Well, for any number of reasons. That it was too late to do anything else may be one. That death by that stage was a lot more welcoming than the consequences they'd face should they decide to abandon the whole wretched plot, no doubt that played on their minds. But at the bottom of it all, see, is the belief that what they were doin' was right. Greengrass refuses to present these people as monsters, I'd wager, for at least two reasons. One of them is that they weren't, at least as far as they were concerned. What they did may be evil, and surely you and I both agree on that. But were they evil? To be evil, does a man not need to be consciously acting against the notion of goodness? They didn't think that for a second."