Eastwood’s biopic is intricate, and Hanks is superb.
Back in 2009, a passenger airplane landed in the Hudson River; all 155 on board survived. It was a miracle. The pilot of that flight was Chesley Sullenberger, and Clint Eastwood’s latest biopic tells the story of that day, and the storm that followed – the storm being the interrogation of Sully (Tom Hanks) by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Sully and his co-pilot (played by a once again excellent Eckhart) were forced to land the plane in the river after they flew into a flock of birds, destroying both engines. They could have tried to glide back to the airport, at the risk of crashing into Manhattan (a frightening scenario we see played out in Sully’s head) or attempt a forced water landing, a notoriously improbable task.
The whole event was over fairly quickly, so Eastwood pads the film out with interrogations and discussions with the big nasty board going against the pilot. The recreations of the forced water landing (not crash) are shuddering. Handled with an expert hand, Eastwood’s creation is thrilling at the best of times.
Outside the event, one could argue Sully is a character study of the man himself. Tom Hanks’ performance is oozing with Oscar potential; level-headed, distinct and delicate. He’s the perfect man for the job, bringing a respectful take on a overwhelmingly modest hero, tackling his inner doubts as tension rises.
Many of us may not have been aware of the hassle Sully faced following the miracle on the Hudson, so it is difficult for us to have an intense view on it. However, in the film it seems to be deliberately routed against the board, which includes Spotlight’s Jamey Sherridan and Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn (f*** you Skyler). The discussions we see are grounded however, not really played for huge dramatic effect, instead going for a more somber feel. Nevertheless, you can’t help but hate the board for seemingly refusing to appreciate Sully’s feat; a very clear intention of Eastwood.
To sum it up…
Lead by a captivating, everyday Hanks, and featuring some of the finest air sequences you’ll see, Eastwood’s Sully is a truly fantastic tale of heroism. Surprisingly short, yet succinct, it isn’t perfect but still essential.
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Author: Cameron Frew