Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
When Clint Eastwood is on, he is on. This guy can direct with a charm and attention to detail reminiscent of 1960’s and 70’s dramas. His direction is most entertaining with the charm of it plays against the story such as with A Perfect World or Million Dollar Baby, or most successfully High Plains Drifter.
Sully does not have that edgy or offbeat story to play against Eastwood’s charming directorial style so the fact that the movie is a success on any level should be applauded. Sully could have easily slipped on the melodrama banana peel and been a Lifetime movie rather than a Hollywood theatrical release. The movie tells the story of Sully Sullenberger a long time pilot for American Airlines that made a controversial decision to emergency land his full plane in the Hudson River. New Yorkers in particular, but the whole country really, called Sully a hero while his bosses weren’t so sure. The film recounts the events of the flight and tells the story of the media frenzy and the subsequent investigation into the landing. There were no deaths or even major injuries but the plane was destroyed so American Airlines automatically appeared to take the stance that Sully and co-pilot Jeff Skiles made poor decisions and could have actually made it to an airport.
Tom Hanks plays Sully as a quiet and humble man, and based on all accounts the real Sully seems to be just that. This is a great role for Hanks who is often at his best when there is no dialogue and he is left to deliver the emotion completely through body language and facial expression. He will probably get another Oscar nomination for this film. Aaron Eckhart actually better represents the quality of the film with his performance, he’s good. Eckhart is good but not memorable and the reality is that Sully overall is a good, but not memorable movie. While Eastwood does manage to avoid melodrama throughout the film outside of one scene between Sully and his wife, played by Laura Linney, he also doesn’t take advantage of opportunities for artistry visual and story-wise. The film was shot with upgraded cameras that offer a wider aspect ratio for IMAX but they never feel truly utilized. The flight scenes are again just good, not particularly beautiful or innovative. Also, the closing fade to black doesn’t feel like an ending; it just feels like the movie stops. While there are no strings of story that are not tied up the movie just doesn’t feel ended. Sure the movie could have went really over the top with the melodrama or the ra ra and I’m really thankful it didn’t do that but it does seem like the movie could have finished stronger. There are some opportunities that I see that could have made the entire story have more impact but I can’t detail those without spoilers so that will be saved for another time.
Sully is a good movie, not a great one and far from a bad one, just a rental. Clint Eastwood never took real advantage of the cinema pallet he had laid out before him. What we get is a solid rental with a good story, one outstanding performance, and a bunch of other just good stuff.