Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review: Sully

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.
Despite its brief running time that clocks in at just over 90 minutes, Clint Eastwood's "Sully" - which recounts the miracle on the Hudson during which Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (played here by Tom Hanks) landed a damaged plane on the river on Jan. 15, 2009 - feels a little padded.

Sullenberger's amazing feat of landing on the Hudson after birds struck the plane's engine took an approximate three minutes, but this film replays that moment over and over again, whether it's the recreation of the scene itself or simulations during Sully's testimony in front of the skeptical National Transportation Safety Board.

That being said, Eastwood and company recreate the scene in an intense and seemingly realistic manner and it helps that Hanks, the go-to actor for upright characters with whom we can sympathize, is the one guiding us through the moment.

Much like his previous film, "American Sniper," Eastwood's latest concerns itself with an iconic American from recent years - although the misunderstood "Sniper" was less of an outright hero worship as this one is, despite what some pundits might have told you - and, in this case, the story focuses on how an ordinary man did an extraordinary thing and must explain himself away to bureaucrats who don't have his years of experience, which likely saved the 155 people on board the flight.

Hanks carries the picture, giving a nuanced performance as a man who has been thrust into the spotlight, which obviously makes him uneasy, and is questioning himself as to whether he handled himself properly during the emergency landing. Aaron Eckhart is also very good as Jeff Skiles, Sully's co-pilot and, on occasion, the picture's comic relief.

Laura Linney, a great actress, doesn't have much to do as Sully's wife other than to look worried. There's a hinted-at trouble regarding Sully's marriage, but we're never given a clear picture, which results in the scenes between Hanks and Linney via phone not registering as they might have if we knew more about their situation.

"Sully" is not one of Eastwood's best films, but it's a well-made and acted - and, on several occasions, emotionally satisfying - drama that recounts an amazing true story. And it's pretty incredible that Hanks - who is his generation's Jimmy Stewart - has never worked with Eastwood prior to this film. They make a good team and "Sully" is, as a result, an engaging film.

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