Sunday, October 2, 2016

Movie with Abe: Sully

Directed by Clint Eastwood
Released September 9, 2016

There is an obvious appeal to dramatizing major unexpected events that were widely seen in the news across the world. As with recent releases like “Snowden,” people remember hearing about it or seeing it and they might also recognize the main player involved. This film’s tagline reads “The untold story of the miracle on the Hudson,” and makes sure that it is forever associated with the pilot who calmly and courageously diverted a flight after it was struck by birds and landed it on the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers and crew on board.

“Sully” opens with its protagonist, Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks), having a nightmare about engine failure on his flight and crashing the plane into a New York City building. He has already performed his miracle act and is facing NTSB scrutiny for his water landing and assertions that, while he didn’t lose a single passenger or crew member, he could easily have landed at multiple area airports without incident. As he grapples with the notion that he might have done the wrong thing, extensive flashbacks reveal what really happened in visceral and astonishing detail.

“Sully” is the true story of an American hero, a man who could have panicked and in nearly all scenarios should not have been able to safely land his plane. Who better to bring that story to the big screen than director Clint Eastwood, who at eighty-six years old has directed his thirty-fifth film. Eastwood positions Sully as a seasoned, reasonable pilot with a unique ability to act under pressure, and subsequent assaults on his credibility only serve to further strengthen his respectability as lensed in this film. It might have been nice and informative to see some of Sully’s noted advocacy for pilot rights and treatment after this incident, but that’s not part of the particular story of heroism that Eastwood is trying to tell.

Hanks is a veteran actor with a history of tackling iconic roles, and this is a fitting career fiftieth film part for him. He brings a strong sense of duty and a striking physical resemblance with the aid of gray hair to the part of Sully, a truly likeable and respectable figure who puts everyone else before him. Aiding him in the cast is Aaron Eckhart as First Officer Jeff Skiles, who looks to Sully as an inspiration and offers him unconditional support throughout the entirety of their experience and the aftermath. Mike O’Malley and Jamey Sheridan stand out as formidable adversaries on the NTSB board, while Anna Gunn could have used a more substantial part worthy of her talents. The film focuses in on Sully and his experiences as they relate to this one flight, and the omission of much of his personal life or past serves to heighten the effectiveness of this one incident. The film is most striking and invigorating when recreating the run-up to the water landing and the “miracle” itself, a magnificent feat that feels impossibly real and incredibly enthralling as the centerpiece of this film.


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