The Best and Worst War Movies About 9/11

September 11th, 2001 is a date seared in the American consciousness - and like Pearl Harbor - is an event that will be captured dozens of times on film in the years to come.  However, it didn't take long for Hollywood to begin making movies about this event (to which, most audiences stayed home - it was just too soon!) with eight films about that day released in just the first decade after the smoke cleared.  Here are the best and worst of them.

of 07

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty.

The Best!

Move over Morgan Spurlock, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty shows the real hunt for Osama Bin Laden and it's an intense, dark ride through the dark side of America's War on Terror.  The ending of the film, where the SEALs take out Bin Laden is so intense that when I saw it at the cinema, you could hear a pin drop in the theatre, as the entire audience held their collective breath.

of 07

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Fahrenheit 9/11.

The Best!

The first out of the gate to make a movie about that fateful day was the liberal raconteur Michael Moore.  His movie was polarizing.  In his film, Moore connects the chain of events from 9/11 to an unnecessary war in Iraq, blaming the Bush administration for lying to the American people.  In recent years, evidence has come to light to show that Moore wasn't always honest with the facts.  That said, the underlying premise of his film, that the Bush administration used 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq has since been largely established.  Whether you love him or hate him, that Moore was able to make this case early on, in a documentary that was simultaneously funny, moving, and anger inducing, is a testament to his skill as a filmmaker.  (This movie also made my list for Top 10 War Documentaries.)

of 07

Loose Change (2005)

Loose Change.

The Worst!

Loose Change is a documentary that was released on-line and then went "viral," making the case that the 9/11 attacks were a coordinated conspiracy by the U.S. government.  (This film is what inspired many modern 9/11 "truthers.")  The documentary seems to make great arguments.  When I first watched it, I was sort of shocked by everything it brought up - all the inconsistencies in the government's version of events, the strange occurrences surrounding that fateful day - but if one watches any of the formal responses to Loose Change, all the ways that Loose Change manipulates viewers become apparent.  At the end of the day, Loose Change is dangerous propaganda.  The biggest reason I doubt the U.S. government played a role in perpetrating 9/11?  The government just isn't organized enough to pull off that type of job.

of 07

World Trade Center (2006)

World Trade Center.

The Best!

Nicholas Cage stars in this Oliver Stone film about a firefighter trapped beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center on the day of the attack.  Stone wisely keeps his politics out of it and focuses on the firefighters at the center of the story.  It's an amazing story of human resilience and the power of the will to survive.  (Warning:  The camera gets all "down in there" with the firefighters beneath thousands of tons of rubble - claustrophobic viewers are advised to skip this film!) 

of 07

United 93 (2006)

United 93.

The Best!

Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy) filmed what is perhaps the best movie yet about 9/11:  .  Telling the story of the doomed hijacked flight that was crashed into a Pennsylvania field, the heroism of the passengers onboard, and the men and women in the control towers on that day, the film has been praised for its lavish attention to detail and meticulous care to follow the events of the day.  The film's script pulled from cell phone calls from relatives, transcripts from air control towers, and recorded conversations.  Many of the actors in the film, such as those in the air traffic control towers, are non-professionals playing themselves.  A fantastic film.

of 07

Reign Over Me (2007)

Reign Over Me.

The Worst!

Adam Sandler stars in this little seen awful film about a man who lost his wife on 9/11 and is struggling to re-connet to society in the years after.  The entire film is ruined though because Adam Sandler maintains his sort of screechy, whiny, child voice all the way through the film.  Sandler is so typecast in stupid comedies, that I couldn't take him seriously.  It tries to be moving and powerful, but just ends up being boring.  I want those two hours of my life back.

of 07

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? (2008)

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?.

The Worst!

Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) attempted another screwball documentary, this time instead of eating McDonalds for 30 days straight, Spurlock was going to track down Osama Bin Laden.  The film has no tension because we know right from the beginning that Spurlock will never come close to finding him.  Consequently, we're forced to wait for an hour and a half as Spurlock mugs for the camera trying painfully to be funny, before at the film's end, he admits, that he has no idea where Bin Laden is.

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Rico, Johnny. "The Best and Worst War Movies About 9/11." ThoughtCo, Jan. 16, 2016, Rico, Johnny. (2016, January 16). The Best and Worst War Movies About 9/11. Retrieved from Rico, Johnny. "The Best and Worst War Movies About 9/11." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 23, 2017).