Tom Hanks once again takes to the air only to come crashing down again. Someone might consider keeping him grounded for a while. Far are his days as a FedEx Executive Chuck Noland crashing into the ocean in Castaway. Or Astronaut Jim Lovell’s trip to the moon that doesn’t work out in Apollo 13 and crashes back into the Pacific Ocean. Tom Hanks takes on the real life biographical drama of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of the US Airways Flight 1549. A life saving move in which he safely crash landed the aircraft on the Hudson River with all 155 passengers and crew surviving in the aptly titled film, Sully.
Any major event in the most recent history has been adapted to the big screen. Princess Diana’s death, the younger days of Barak Obama, the tragic event that lost the lives of eight mountaineers on Everest and a plethora of war based films. It is harder to sell a movie you dreamt up than it is to sell a story of something that’s already happened. For that exact reason making a movie is that little bit harder because people already know the story. And with so much “citizen” journalists documenting the every in and out of these major events or lives of these people, there isn’t much left to the imagination. It’s also harder to take some cinematic liberties in how the story is told which is very much the case for Sully. The entire film not only revolves around the posttraumatic stress Sully suffers, but also how the authorities go out of their way to put Sully at the centre of the blame. The National Transportation Safety Board were quick blame in fear their reputation may be put into jeopardy.
The movie opens with Sully in a bad dream as the plane he was Captain of crashes into Manhattan, one of the highest populated areas in the world. We discover that this is a regular occurrence since the crash. Sully is under investigation by the National Safety Board who is trying to not only analyse data but also investigate the Captain’s mental state. Sully is the father of two daughters and husband to a beautiful wife, worked as a pilot for over 40 years and has started his own Safety Investigation business on the side. As the investigators start to put blame towards Sully, he keeps his cool and questions their motives. And even though the press didn’t always know how hard the Safety Board were pushing the blame on Sully, they were convinced that without Sully the story of those 155 lives would be told a lot differently.
Tom Hanks in his grey hear and brown eyes absolutely outshines in this role, to the point that his acting ability is greater than the film itself. Sully suffers from post traumatic stress and as he looks out the hotel window he sees his flight crashing into New York. The look on Hanks face captures a thousand words until he is broken from his daydream. He seems to have also managed to really hone in on what Chesley Sullenberger is actually like with his fatherly, honest and genuine personality.In addition to his quiet and humble demeanor where he takes a step back to let others shine and receive recognition as they deserve. While this is nowhere near his best performance in a film he easily manages to out perform everyone, including the story.
Alongside Hanks is Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Olympus Has Fallen, Battle LA) who plays Co-Pilot Jeff Skiles. A lot of his time was spent flicking switches and making jokes on David Letterman. Eckhart did manage to have a pretty hefty moustache that almost took over his entire mouth. Not sure if it was the moustache but it was sometimes hard to decipher what it was he was saying.
Sully’s wife Lorraine Sullenberger,is played by Laura Linney (Love Actually, The Truman Show, Mr. Holmes). Linney plays her usual forceful and emotionally blind character that doesn’t have any other ability other than to be confused, emotional and needy. And as Sully’s wife who is nowhere near him throughout the inquest, she plays the needy and emotional wife rather swimmingly.
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Invictus, Million Dollar Baby) Directs this near miss. While it’s not his first attempt at Directing or his first at a biographical drama, Eastwood doesn’t quite manage to capture what would have been a very emotional time for everyone involved. The biggest downfall of this story is the visual effects from Cinematographer Tom Stern who is famous for Hunger Games and most of Eastwood’s other films. The effects just weren’t up to scratch and this took away from the effectiveness of the film. For example the scenes where Hanks is day dreaming, it looks like a computer game which is fine if that’s what they were going for. But this is inside a mans head who has flown for over four decades, one would think it would be a little more visual than a computer simulation.
Overall this is a wonderful story that shows courage, true responsibility and dedication to a job and the lives of hundreds. It is a warming story that shows human compassion and human error. Though in this case the human side of the story is the only thing that saved lives. How important it is to not over react in crazy situations such as a water landing and how everyone can come together to help. And much like the movie itself, if you take out Sully there is no successful landing. If you take out Tom Hanks there isn’t really much of a movie, at least there isn’t much of a success.
Review by Jason Cook