Clint Eastwood is still one hell of a talented director. Tom Hanks is still one hell of an actor. Together, they were bound to make one hell of a team. And they did. ‘Sully’ is a very simple story told quite well. It’s a bit redundant and short changes a number of its supporting cast, but the execution of Chesley Sullenberger’s actions on that fateful day in 2009 are absolutely harrowing (as is Hanks performance). They better be. They show them several times.
Luckily, the crash sequence is executed quite expertly and the use of IMAX cameras makes for the maximum impact for your dollar. Which makes up for the films slight short comings. Again, the story is pretty thin. Basically, we watch the investigation into the crash (a couple conversations), Sully’s nightmares, his family, and cut back several times to the crash itself. This all leads to a showdown with the National Transportation Safety Board that really gets at the heart of what made Sully’s decision to land in the Hudson so miraculous.
That’s really what this movie wants so badly to do. Eastwood is trying to show us a portrait of a talented man, who did his job expertly when it mattered most. And not just Sully. Eastwood also wants to show you the harbor workers, scuba cops, air traffic controllers, and everyone else that helped make sure not one person died that day. It is truly an inspiring act and should make you think hard about what it is that’s best about human beings.
It also helps to have a human being like Tom Hanks to fill out the main character. Hanks doesn’t have to give a big or brash performance here. It’s subtle, and it’s fantastic. He evokes everything that Americans loved about Sully. While also giving us some depth that the real Sullenberger did not show when we watched him on television. It may all be in his book, but Hanks brings it vividly to life.
The other actors, like Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney, do a fine job with what they were given, but it’s not a lot. The real hero is Hanks and the heroes of that fateful day. So, while the movie may not shake up the Oscar race, it is a solid look at what Americans doing their jobs with complete efficiency really looks like in a moment of tragedy. And I have to tell you, it is a thing of beauty.