Sully is Chesley Sullenberger’s nickname. He is the pilot who, on Jan. 15, 2009, with 155 people on board, he made an emergency landing in New York City’s Hudson River. Sully became an instant hero worldwide. TV appearances and more accolades followed.
Director Clint Eastwood takes Sullenberger’s book Highest Duty, and he and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki (The Perfect Stranger) turn it into a short, intense and fascinating movie about what happened to Sullenberger and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles behind the scenes.
The film’s focus is the investigation of the crash done by the Federal Aviation Administration afterward and later the National Transportation Safety Board. Simulations done by other pilots show Sullenberger could have made it to LaGuardia, where he took off from, or to an airport in New Jersey.
Sully and his co-pilot dispute that conclusion.
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Tom Hanks again puts on his everyman face and plays Sully as a reluctant hero under a lot of pressure. Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight and London Has Fallen movies) is Skiles. Laura Linney plays Sullenberger’s harried wife.
Eastwood sticks Hanks and his co-stars in a fascinating story, but the people they play aren’t particularly compelling. What saves the film is how Eastwood weaves the plane crash in and out of the plot. Though you know everything turns out alright, when the plane crashes, it’s impossible to not clench your teeth and worry everyone will be safe.
Eastwood is one of Hollywood’s best storytellers. If a topic requires lots of time, he gives you a three-hour movie. Simpler plots get less. Here, Eastwood cuts corners when he shouldn’t. Hints of alcoholism and family troubles that aren’t explored, and the questions generated aren’t answered. Also, much of the tension that Sully and Skiles are under is from situations that may not have actually occurred. Or if they did, liberties are taken for dramatic purposes.
I definitely recommend Sully, but it is these liberties and untold parts of the story that cause Eastwood’s movie to do its own crash landing.
Director: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Jamey Sheridan, Mike O’Malley, Anna Gunn
Stars: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Jamey Sheridan, Mike O’Malley, Anna Gunn
Mr. Movie rating: Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some intense action sequences. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Queensgate 12, and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.