Sully

Checked out the new Tom Hanks starring/Clint Eastwood directed film Sully, based on the Miracle of the Hudson forced water landing of a passenger plane back in 2009. Hanks plays Captain Sullenberg in a good, very Hanksian performance with Aaron Eckhart’s giant bushy mustache as his co-pilot and Laura Linney in another movie as his wife (they share no screen time, she does a good job).

This is a solid movie about skilled people doing their job well. It avoids a lot of schmaltz and just tells its story of the water landing in interesting and unique ways. It’s almost Rashoman-like if the versions of the story were really all that different. We get the crash at least three times, each time told from a slightly different perspective (air traffic control, the passengers and flight attendants, and finally the pilot/co-pilot). We see a couple nightmares/visions of how it could have gone down (possibly to spice up the action) and some simulations which are weirdly interesting. We also get a curiously large number of board room meetings and inquests that are actually compelling.

It’s an interesting way to tell a story that took no more than 30 minutes to occur (including the actual rescue) in real life. It doesn’t go into huge detail about Sully’s past (a few flashbacks to his younger life which could have been cut) and a random smattering of the passengers and rescue workers. It’s a relatively short movie and they could have extended it with more drama with these characters and maybe it should. But it worked the way it was shot and edited.

Eastwood and the gang avoid a lot of easy tricks this kind of movie often uses and kind of tell a workman-like story. There are nominal villains in the NTSB and airline insurance companies but they were never mustache-twirling villains. Maybe they were a little more sentimental and aware of the hero-worship of Sully than shown in the movie but what they did still felt largely like what people with those jobs might do (that is: figure out why the plane crashed and if Sully was partially responsible). I’ve read those people in real life aren’t happy with their depiction here but, compared to similar movies, they are treated well, in my opinion.

So, yeah, this is a fine movie. Not huge on the action and there’s only so much suspense that can be gleaned from an event we are familiar with. But what there can be is presented well. I recommend this film. Good movie about good people doing their jobs.

Score: 83

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