In January of 2009, an Airbus A320 with 155 people on board made an emergency water landing on the Hudson River in New York City. Miraculously, no one was killed. Their survival was placed at the feet of the pilot, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his gutsy call to land on the river instead of trying to make it to a runway. The landing and the investigation following it are the subject of Clint Eastwood’s newest film, Sully.
Tom Hanks stars as Sully and picks up shortly after he landed the plane. He’s having nightmares, imaging the plane crashing into a building and is startled awake by it. The next day he’s in a meeting with members of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in which they tell him that the computer data says that one of the plane’s engines was still operational and that computer simulations show that he could made it to an airport rather than landing on the Hudson. Sully and his First Officer, Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) are forced to defend their actions that (remember) saved the life of every single person on the plane. It becomes an issue of “did the outcome justify the means” and while the investigation is happening Sully is declared a hero by the media and the world. So that’s what we see in the movie, is the investigation that going on behind the scenes (that we didn’t know about at the time) versus the very public praise for Sully and his crew.
Clint Eastwood is a very good director and storyteller. He doesn’t waste moments on screen and everything you see fits in the world he’s building for you and with the character he wants you to get to know and understand. The problem with Eastwood’s style of storytelling is that it can get a little long-winded. Most of his films cross the two hour mark but they feel longer. Have you ever seen Gran Torino? It’s a great film, and I will absolutely watch it if it’s on TV, but it feels like an all-day affair when it’s actually just a few minutes under the two-hour mark. Sully runs at one hour and thirty-six minutes, but it definitely feels longer than that. Eastwood lets the characters tell the story and not much really happens in his films.
If you really want put yourself through the paces, watch his 2010 film Hereafter, you’ll be wishing for the hereafter about halfway through.
Tom Hanks proves once again that he’s one of the best actors in Hollywood. He plays Sully very calmly. He seems to capture the person that we’ve seen in interviews on TV and he has this great moment when he’s being checked out in the hospital after the Hudson River landing and he learns that everyone survived. You feel his sense of relief come across the screen as he realizes what has happened. I’m not sure that he every truly realized that landing on the Hudson River was a big deal. To him, it was just what he had to do and somehow he knew he could do it.
The most interesting part of Sully is the recreation of the flight and landing itself. They scripted based off the actual radio traffic between the Pilots and Air Traffic Control to build the entire event. You also get to know some of the passengers on the plane to get the sense that these were 155 actual human beings on the flight. Sully credited everyone for saving the passengers and he’s right. At least in the movie, every member of the flight crew, every passenger, and every responder was calm and acted as though they had done this hundreds of times. Every piece worked together to create a perfect outcome.
There’s been controversy over the film’s depictions of planes crashing into buildings in New York City. I get the controversy. Especially with the 15th anniversary of 9/11 around the corner, it’s on people’s minds. These crashes are all depictions of Sully’s nightmares and it’s possible that had he not made the decision to land on the Hudson River, the plane would have crashed somewhere in New York City.
He absolutely made the right choice and Clint Eastwood made the right choice in expressing that fear.
Also in theaters this week, Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall star in When The Bough Breaks as John and Laura Taylor a young, professional couple who desperately want a baby. After exhausting all other options, they finally hire Anna, the perfect woman to be their surrogate - but as she gets further along in her pregnancy, so too does her psychotic and dangerous fixation on John. The couple becomes caught up in Anna's deadly game and must fight to regain control of their future before it's too late.
Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon star in Complete Unknown, a shape-shifting tale of the perils and pleasures of self-reinvention that begins at a dinner party, when Tom's co-worker arrives with an intriguing date named Alice. Tom is convinced he knows her, but she refuses to acknowledge their history. And when Alice makes a hasty exit, Tom sets off after her. What follows is an all-night odyssey shared by two people, one needing to change his life, the other questioning how to stop changing.
Now Available for Streaming:
Man on Wire
Saving Private Ryan
True Grit (1969)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The First Monday in May
Black Hawk Down
Good Will Hunting
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Jeff Who Live At Home
Now Available on DVD/Blu-Ray:
Love & Friendship
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
A Bigger Splash
All The Way
Now You See Me 2
Night Train to Munich (Gestapo)