Movie Review: Clint Eastwood’s ‘Sully’ plays out well
Director Clint Eastwood’s new film “Sully” depicts the story of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who made a successful emergency landing in the Hudson River in New York City in January 2009 after flying into q flock of birds which damaged the Airbus 320’s engines.
It’s a well-told biopic starring Tom Hanks as Sully who must defend his decision to splash down the big jet with 155 passengers and crew members rather than attempt a landing at nearby Teterboro airport.
The film starts out slowly telling of Sully’s military experiences flying fighter jets. It builds slowly because Eastwood has to create a Sully backstory while the audience already knows the story of the splashdown, which got major media attention because of its New York setting. Pictures of the passengers standing on the wings of the downed Airbus flashed around the world.
Co-starring are Anna Gunn as Sully’s wife and Aaron Eckhart as Sully’s stolid copilot.
Much of the film deals with the post-crash investigation by a federal transport board with Sully on the stand. And Sully wanders around New York, sometime running, stopping at a bar, staring at the river. He keep contact with his wife and other pilots as he is grilled. Computer simulations suggest he could have made it safely to an airport.
The film is basically told from Sully’s point of view and while the pace starts out slowly, it picks up speed and impact as it nears the dramatic watery crash. There is some doubt by Sully about the correctness of his decision to crash in the Hudson, but he overcomes it and deals with life as a hero. Hanks is solid as Sully and the supporting actors pros, including the members of the investigating board.
In the essence, the film portrays Sully as a true hero with little doubt about his decision to crash in the Hudson.
However, there remains a briefly explored alternate version of it all — could Sully have made it to an airport safely as the computer modeling suggests? But that’s another story, and this one plays out well.
Eastwood’s direction is largely tight with a minimum of backstory. Hanks is fine and the story well told. There may be another story but that’s for someone else to tell.