Sully (Eastwood; 2016)

Sully is the story surrounding the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson” in which on January 15, 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 out of LaGuardia Airport was forced to land on the Hudson River with all 155 persons on board the aircraft surviving.  The pilot of that flight was one Chelsey Sullenberger a.k.a. Sully, and if you didn’t already know all this you are either so young I’m surprised you’re reading this blog (thank you) or you are really good at avoiding learning about current events as this story was headline international news for quite some time after the events unfolded.

The movie Sully focuses almost entirely on the crash landing (sorry, water landing) itself and on the investigation that took place in the days following.  We do get short and sporadic glimpses into Sully’s history and family life, but these are so short and sporadic that they really add nothing to the movie other than filling out a bit of running time.  This isn’t a movie about a person’s history so much as the exploration of one specific event.

Tom Hanks as Sully himself and Aaron Eckhart as his copilot on the flight Jason Skiles are the two actors who get the vast majority of the screentime here, with only a handful of actors getting much in the way screentime or dialogue outside of thm, and they both do an admirable job of making the characters likable though there is little to their performances in the way of nuance or creativity.  This is, in fact, a common thread throughout the entire movie has a whole, that it’s important that Sully be made likable.

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I’m Tom Hanks.  Likable is what I do.

The writing in Sully is very mediocre.  It’s never distracting and knows where it wants to focus, but there are never any examples of scintillating dialogue, thematic depth, nor developed characters.  It gives us a plane crash and the investigation by the Sully’s employers and their insurance company and very little else.  We have characters painted in broad strokes, pilots good, investigators bad, and events that the way they are written seem a little too overly simplistic and manipulative to be completely true, but the story is told well with a plot that moves along well and plot beats hit in all the right places.

The visuals are the film’s strong point.  The camera work gives some great shots of New York, the many scenes which are essentially nothing but conversation are made much more than they could have been through some pretty great and creative framing, and the plane crash itself is shown many ways from many perspectives and makes for some very tense viewing, even though you already know the result.

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This is the most tense standing in line you’re likely to see this year.

Sully is, ultimately, a banal movie with some good camera work.  It does the simple job of making someone who is already viewed positively by the vast majority of the world’s population likable, makes companies look greedy and thoughtless, and tells events that are still pretty fresh in the minds of everyone who was out of elementary school by 2009 (and probably even many who were in elementary school).  It’s not a bad movie, it’s simply a predictable, safe, unimaginative one.

Rating:  5.2 out of 10

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