Film Review: Sully
Sully, the latest film by Clint Eastwood, stars Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the guy who landed a plane on the Hudson River in January of 2009. The film is about that landing and the subsequent investigation about whether Sully made the right call. While it doesn't quite reach the heights of Eastwood's best work, Sully is a gripping drama about what it means to be good at your job.
Unsurprisingly given it's first film ever to be shot entirely using IMAX cameras, the visuals are stunning. There is as much detail in shots of conference rooms as in the shots of the water landing. That landing is shown from multiple perspectives and Eastwood creates a sense of urgency each time its shown, despite the audience already knowing the outcome. Two flashbacks to Sully's training as a pilot are incredibly vivid, but feel misplaced within the story. The focus is mainly on Sully himself, although the few short scenes featuring the passengers of the flight invaluably add to the emotion of the film.
The supporting cast is full of strong actors, but none of them are given much to do. Laura Linney spends all of her minutes of screen time as Sully's wife on the phone. She's affecting, but there isn't anything to the role. Just once I wished the scene didn't end right after she had hung up the phone. How is she reacting to all that's going on when she's alone? What do the two daughters think? Aaron Eckhart fares better as first officer Jeff Skiles. His character brings a lightness to the film that contrasts nicely with Hanks' Sully. Skiles is happy that things turned out as well as they did, but Sully still seems troubled. And that's where the conflict lies.
Whatever doubts Sully may have had about the landing are amplified by him having to defend his actions to the investigators. The script contains some especially corny lines of dialogue uttered by Hanks, which are completely unnecessary because of how good of an actor he is. He doesn't need to say he's worried, we can see it on his face.
Like Eastwood's last film, American Sniper, this one has a protagonist made uncomfortable by hero worship. Sully was just doing his job the best way he knew how, and he doesn't think that makes him a hero. But in a year when most of the movies about heroes are about those of the super variety, it's refreshing this type of hero celebrated on screen.