Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Anna Gunn, Laura Linney
In 2009, Chesley Sullenberger saved 155 people when he water landed an aircraft on the Hudson River. despite being hailed a hero by the media and public, Sully himself deals with a psychological battle whilst an investigation takes place about the events.
Clint Eastwood has directed some strong movies, I remember being shown Unforgiven when I was a young teen, I think it may have been my first Eastwood movie. More recently I loved Million Dollar Baby, and of course Gran Torino. He is better known for his acting roles for sure, but his ability to craft well structured, well acted movies without relying too much on special effects makes him a breath of fresh air at times in modern cinema.
With Sully he has partnered up with Tom Hanks, who needs no introduction. Me, like all others I am sure, love Hanks and the roles he has played in the past. In Sully, he puts in a flawless performance, with his typical relaxed approached to acting he brings warmth to the screen. He doesn’t put a foot wrong here and he makes it all seem effortless. Aaron Eckhart puts in a fantastic performance too as co-pilot Jeff Skiles, who offers something different to each scene with Hanks. Where Sully is often calm and collected, Skiles is more confrontational and direct, and this contrast makes for balanced scenes. Special mention also to Anna Gunn, who has broken free from her role in Breaking Bad (see what I did there…?) and puts in a solid performance as part of the investigation panel. All in all, a very well cast movie.
At the very beginning of this movie we are on-board the aircraft as it tumbles through the city and crashes horribly, a nightmare that awakens Sully. By beginning the movie this way Eastwood cuts out all of the unnecessary family and story build up that is common in disaster movies, and ultimately reduces its runtime to 90 minutes. We are thrown straight into Sullie’s character and this is an excellent directing decision by Eastwood. Throughout the movie Sully has phone calls with his wife, played well by Laura Linney. This is used often with disaster movies but by cutting out all of the family affairs at the beginning of the movie, this relationship feels more believable.
Introducing Sully’s mindset early on is important, as the psychological toll of this crash is evident from the first scene, and this progresses well throughout the movie. At one stage he is simply oblivious to other people as he watches a plane crash outside the window. I did feel like this could have had more screen time, but I am glad they put some focus on it.
The crash itself is viewed from multiple perspectives, bringing in air traffic control and passengers amongst others. This structure was my main issue with the movie, despite the visual effects of the crash being outstanding. What reduced the impact of this is that I didn’t feel I learned anything new about the events upon each showing. The addition we do get is what effects the crash are having on different people, but for me this wasn’t enough to keep me invested in the story and the finale. By the closing twenty minutes or so, due to the structure, I had lost some interest in the outcome of the investigation, which was a real shame for me as the performances of these actors really drove the film forward.
Overall I enjoyed this movie mainly because of its lead, I mean how can you not love a Tom Hanks performance? Along with Anna Gunn and Aaron Eckhart it helped propel my viewing, just a bit of a shame the structure of the movie and overall story didn’t invest me enough to care about the final outcome. I mention earlier that Eastwood keeps his movies simple with not much special effects, but the work done here on the crash were exceptional. Oh, and special mention to the Gran Torino billboard, good work Clint.