Monday, September 12, 2016

[Review] Sully

Sully sees Tom Hanks teaming up with director Clint Eastwood for a retelling of the "Miracle on the Hudson". Like many people, I had my reservations about this film. Given that this was such a recent and well-covered story, what more is there to say? Is there any aspect of suspense or surprise? And considering that Captain Sullenberg is widely recognized as a hero for safely landing a damaged plane in a river where all 155 passengers survived with minimal injury, why is the dude getting grilled in the notably drab trailer? Well, it turns out that the film actually does a so-so job of diving into the behind-the-media drama, and an even better one at portraying the landing and rescue mission.

Early on we meet the humble and dedicated Sully (Hanks), as well as his co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart). The non-linear narrative alternates between three periods: The events leading up to the flight, the actual flight & water landing, and the aftermath involving an NTSB investigation that insists Sully had better options--which puts his reputation, career, and peace of mind in jeopardy.

The procedural stuff does feel a lot like the 2012's Flight but without the alcohol. And it's frustrating (by design), as the film attempts to place doubts in our heads (and Sully's) about the Captain's decision while the investigators relentlessly try to blame him for something... anything. At one point I was just waiting for Tom Hanks to yell "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!" Of course, the film is at its most compelling during the second half when we begin to meet the Flight 1549 passengers and witness the intense, highly detailed, and well-executed sequence of the remarkable landing.

It's no surprise that Tom Hanks is solid as Sully, but it isn't a role that quite screams *Oscar nomination* like 2013's Captain Phillips. Hanks and Eckhart do make a good duo though, and their mustache game is strong here. Thematically, the film celebrates the valiant effort of many different people coming together and doing their best to avoid a tragedy. There's also a bit of commentary on the computer simulation vs human element, along with some hints at post-9/11 fears. What went through onlookers' minds when they saw another low-flying plane cruising through the city?

The film would've been a complete drag had it pushed toward two hours, but thankfully it clocks in at about 96 minutes, which is crucial because it doesn't go too overboard on the padding. However, the phone calls between Sully and his wife (played by Laura Linney) come off as really generic, and the series of after-climax scenes play more like a redundant recap than a smooth resolution.

So, despite some clunkiness, Sully is a fairly serviceable based-on-real-events tale that could've ended up a lot worse.

( 7.5/10 )

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