Review: Clint Eastwood’s ‘Sully’ Is Much More Than It Seems

At one point in “Sully”, a computer simulation is pitted against good old fashioned human ingenuity. It’s not a spoiler to say that when this occurs in a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, the computer doesn’t stand a chance.

“Sully” is a perfect example of what can happen when the right director gets the right script and casts the right actor or actress. In this case, Eastwood, screenwriter Todd Komarnicki, and star Tom Hanks are firing on all cylinders in a movie that finds a way to stretch an event that took under five minutes to happen into a sharp story in 95 minutes.

In case you’ve been trapped under a large rock, “Sully” details the events on and after the emergency water landing on the Hudson River on January 15th, 2009. The opening scene will leave every skittish flyer sweating bullets, not to mention be a chilling reminder of previous events that occurred involving planes and New York.

Komarnicki’s clever screenplay keeps a viewer on their toes as it moves around in time from the flight to the accident review hearing that Sully and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), are forced to attend. Since there is no natural antagonist (unless you count the geese that destroyed the plane’s engines), the only bad guy is bureaucracy and an investigation into Sully’s actions.

That investigation is led by three people (Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Anna Gunn) who each play fairly one-dimensional roles of jerk, skeptic, and silent believer. These meetings, seamlessly and brilliantly edited by Blu Murray, provide a chance for the water landing to be shown from several different perspectives.

Naturally, “Sully” saves the best for last and the review of the cockpit recording provides the most intense and fascinating look at the event. It is equal parts harrowing, uplifting, and chilling, mostly due to the purposeful quietness of it all.

Much will be made of Tom Hanks’ performance as Sully, but Aaron Eckhart is equally as impressive. He provides much of the comedic relief and his bold confidence is a steadying hand that balances out Hanks’ shy, quiet calm. It would be a shame for Eckhart to be overlooked for such wonderful work.

It is a virtual certainty that Tom Hanks will collect his sixth Best Actor Academy Award nomination. This is as understated and subtle as Hanks has ever been and his everyman demeanor is anything but routine. Hanks never plays Sully as a hero, just a man who feels compelled to do the job for which he is paid without the need for accolades. Essentially, this is a workmanlike character being played by one of the finest workmanlike actors of all time.

Even though he’s behind the camera, it’s impossible to not see Clint Eastwood on the screen.

“Sully” is telling a story about a specific event, but Eastwood turns it into more than that. This is a thank you to the people in under appreciated jobs that serve the public and a love letter to the city of New York. Eastwood is telling a story about Sully while reminding everyone just how much people with jobs like his are taken for granted.

“Sully” approaches the rarified air of previous Eastwood films such as “Million Dollar Baby” or “Unforgiven.” His movies seem simple and straight forward, but there are always several layers that blur the lines between right and wrong. In “Sully”, Eastwood and Hanks create a character who even after saving 155 people from certain death is laden with doubt and conflict. The fact that everyone knows the outcome and “Sully” will still keep you on the edge of your seat is a testament to just how fantastic of a movie this is.

Contact Chic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.