3 Stars for Sully
Clint Eastwood hasn’t made a great movie since “Gran Torino.” He hit a rough slump after that. He ended up in a spiral of mediocrity, in three years giving us “Invictus,” “Hereafter,” and “J. Edgar.” Not his golden era. Eastwood took a few years and hit us with disappointing “Jersey Boys” and then “American Sniper,” which was just okay. Since I first heard of “Sully,” I was excited. Eastwood directing Hanks will be great. As it turns out, it capped off another trilogy of movies that were just okay for you, but your parents probably really liked.
“Sully” is directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Tom Hanks, Arron Eckhart, and Laura Linney. Hanks plays real life pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully landed a failing plain in the Hudson River with no casualties and his subsequent problems proving to the National Transportation Safety Board that it was the best choice. Hanks’ Sully often refers to the 208 seconds it took for the plane to land, and this movie feels about how you would expect a two hour movie based on three and a half minutes would feel: underwhelming.
“Sully” never really made up its mind on what type of movie it wanted to be; this movie was disappointing everywhere but the acting. From one angle, it was a reenactment of the events that happened while the plane was going down. From another angle, it was a movie about the aftermath of the incident. From a third angle, it was scrambling to humanize the passengers who we knew would be fine from the first minute of the movie. There was a way to make a great movie out of two of those options, but all three is nearly impossible.
First we had this extremely cinematic portrayal of the actual plane going down. There was nothing wrong with this section; they did a good job of making the situation seem hopeless. Hanks and Eckhart do some top notch acting here, keeping there voices steady and calm, but in their faces you saw fear, you saw the wright of the 155 lives, including their own, that they were responsible for.
We got to see flashy cinematography that we didn’t see anywhere else. We learned about our characters, especially Sully, during this. Done all at once this would have been great, but the way it was chopped and sprinkled throughout the movie really did it a disservice.
Then we had what really derailed this movie: the supporting characters. Were this a fictional tale, with stakes as high as these real events had, it would make sense to really make you worry about the passengers on the flight. A good story would make you worry about the lives that were there; however, before we even set foot on the plane, we know everyone is going to be fine.
In that scenario, we do not need to flesh out these characters. It opened the door for some terribly scripted and forced family moments that added so little to the movie. It was very frustrating because without those we could have had more time for what I felt was where this movie could have really shined.
After landing the plane in the Hudson, Sully’s decision is heavily scrutinized. They need to make sure this was truly his only option. They can’t let a man who makes a decision like putting a plane into water instead of a runway keep flying unless he had no other alternative. The hearings and meeting were frustrating, as much for the viewers as they are for the characters. Making a room full of people watching videos of a flight simulator to find out a decision’s validity more interesting to watch than a man piloting a plane in a very dramatic crash landing is good film making. It is film making that we didn’t see enough of. I loved every minute of the meetings, and focusing more on that and less on its characters and their relationships could have done wonders for this movie.
Was ”Sully” a failure? No. It also isn’t an incredible movie. It’s worth seeing. This is the type of movie that I would have waited for on DVD to watch with older members of the family. This is a movie worth watching, but not quite one worth rushing out to see.
— Jack White, Staff Writer