Probably one of the most concise and honestly made films I’ve seen this year since Spotlight.
Based off the true events from January 2009, Sully follows the frightening and dramatic events of an airliner forced to land on the Hudson River in America, and the following investigation of its pilot Chesley Sullenberger.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Sully is a very honest and very well constructed movie, packed with some incredibly down-to-Earth and realistic performances from everyone involved. When everything is concluded, the story is reasonably simple and maybe that is a minus for some people; why turn this into a film (asides Oscar baiting)? But Sully is probably a great example of screenplay writing and adaptation.
You could have written a very linear screenplay: start, middle, end, with events rolling along as they happen and with the audience’s perspective purely with our plane’s captain. A movie like Flight, does this. However, Sully begins at a very tactful moment just after the event; with Sullenberger confident that he did is job (as traumatic as it was) and the people of New York praising him as a hero. Top of the world, despite circumstances.
But the film takes us through the difficulties that followed for him. Doubt. Officials start saying he could have saved the entire plane, that his forty plus years of experience hadn’t paid off, that crashing the plane was not just avoidable but also due to his incompetence. The film does a great job of representing not only Sullenberger’s trauma but also a career man’s confidence and self-esteem be slowly, unfairly taxed and whittled away.
Tom Hanks plays our lead as Chesley Sullenberger as well as one expects from Hanks, and footage of the real man during the end credits really proves how exact Hanks portrayal was. It is hard for the actor to disappear into a role, as famous as he is, but there actually was a couple of times were he did. Aaron Eckhart plays the co-pilot Jeff Skiles very well here too (impressive mustache too!)
It is one of those films that I really appreciate its honesty and its craftsmanship. It is a short film, just over ninety minutes, it doesn’t overplay any aspect of the events, it doesn’t Hollywood-ise anything or sledgehammer any values. It simply tells a series of traumatic events very well. It isn’t overly bleak either, with a couple of spots of kind, honest levity throughout.
It is probably one of Eastwood’s best directorial pieces in a while (probably due to everything I just stated in the previous paragraph!) or at least easily better than the disastrous American Sniper. If you enjoy dramas and have less than two hours to spend, Sully is a good choice; a story representing a truly modern tale of heroism.