David Stehman ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
On January 15, 2009, the events of the Miracle on the Hudson filled news worldwide as the perfect feel-good story of hope in humanity. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was praised as the hero who saved all 155 passengers and crew in an emergency water-landing, something that had never been done before. Sounds like the end of the story, right?
Turns out, Sully’s story was far from over after he left the headlines. Swarming media attention was the only the beginning of Sully’s troubles. Sully, which starts in the days after the Miracle on the Hudson, follows the troubled pilot (played wonderfully by a white-mustachioed Tom Hanks) as he is investigated by a committee to determine whether or not the water-landing (and destruction of the incredible expensive airplane) was truly the last resort. As Sully reflects on the incident, he struggles with crippling PTSD and a guilt complex that makes him question his own actions.
Hanks carries the film with refined gusto, playing a role quite unusual to his typical typecasting. While he does retain his unofficial title “America’s Dad,” especially in the scenes in which he confidently faces the air security committee, he does well to show a tortured, contemplative man without seeming unnatural.
Clint Eastwood’s direction shines the most in this film. While his last feature, American Sniper drew polarized reactions regarding its debatably slanted view of the War in Afghanistan, Eastwood does well to avoid obvious patriotism and idolization. Instead, he uses his fantastic ability to portray pulse-pounding action and stark realism in amazing ways. The screenplay, which uses a non-linear structure effectively, does a great job at portraying the water-landing and the first-response without melodramatic cinematic flairs. Everything the audience witnesses feels authentic. And Eastwood does amazing work making the normal evacuation procedures exciting and gripping.
Throughout the film, minor hiccups appear. The abundance of product placement tends to get on the excessive side, like the fact that every character stays in some variation of a Marriott throughout the film, and some “wink wink” moments of obvious foreshadowing gets mildly tiresome (like Sully commenting how beautiful the Hudson looks from the air before the birds hit the engines). But these annoyances only weaken the film if the audience lets them. They are easily forgivable during the action scenes and fantastic character studies.
The supporting cast does a commendable job following Hanks, especially Aaron Eckhart as Sully’s loyal co-pilot, Laura Linney as Sully’s supporting wife, and Mike O’Malley and Anna Gunn as the ruthless committee heads. In fact, the film does a fantastic job at emphasizing the importance of the supporting roles of the Miracle on the Hudson. Sully may be the titular hero, but it was the crew, the passengers, and the first responders of New York that made everything a success. Instead of Eastwood toting his American patriotism like he did in American Sniper, Sully can be easily argued as NYC patriotism.
Sully is such an effective story, both in action and characters, that it should be remembered come Oscar season. Just think twice before you watch in on your next flight on an airplane.
Overall Rating: A-
Watch The Trailer