In case you haven’t noticed, Academy Award winner Tom Hanks has been on a biopic kick these last few years. Don’t believe me? Look at some of his most recent roles:
- James Donovan in Bridge of Spies
- Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks
- Captain Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips
Hanks’ biopic tour continues with his newest film based on man who got his 15 minutes of fame for an action that occurred in 208 seconds. Maybe you remember the news coverage of what happened on January 15, 2009, when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 did something unthinkable, unprecedented and unexpected: successfully survived a forced water landing in the middle of the Hudson River with all 155 men and women aboard her, surviving the ordeal of the plane losing both of its engines shortly after take-off. The event was dubbed, the Miracle on the Hudson and one man was at the center of that miracle: Captain Chesley Sullenberger, “Sully” for short.
Tom Hanks steps into the skin of the title character as the film follows Captain Sullenberger through the precursor of the landing, the landing itself but more so, the aftermath, which involves a scrutinizing investigation by the National Travel Service Bureau looking into how Sully successfully got the plane on the Hudson and all of the passengers alive. Through this picture we see Sully haunted by the ordeal, reflecting and second-guessing if he made the right call, beleaguered by the press and the investigation, worried for his wife and family back home, but in truth, Sully, both the actual man and the main point of this film, is just a man who was doing his job and made a judgement call that paid off. Big time.
I for one was quite smitten by Sully, the motion picture not the man. The great Clint Eastwood made a film that was very smooth, like a flight gone right; wasn’t exactly turbulent as I wanted but I saw a lot that I liked as I was taken by the ride. Eastwood was the pilot, Hanks was the co-pilot of sorts and through their expertise audiences got to their intended destination rather satisfied.
Sully isn’t on the same emotional frequency as Eastwood’s last directorial effort, American Sniper, so I don’t believe it’s fair to compare the two even though there are some comparisons that can be established. I guess you could say that both central characters are in their own ways, haunted by their actions and are trying to cope with the aftermath of what they have done.
Granted the main attractions to Sully are the lead actor who turns in a rather grounded and solid performance and the director who did a fine job in helming this story with dignity and respect to the subject matter but there are other moving parts to Sully worthy of praise.
The writing based on Captain Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow’s bestseller “Highest Duty” adapted to the screen courtesy of Todd Komarnicki is riveting and it takes you by the hand, guiding you throughout the ordeal without losing a step or leaving anyone behind, yet when the film ends, it somehow feels unfinished. Perhaps, I found the subplot of Sully’s family back home was unresolved at the cost of the conclusion of the NTSB’s investigation; I just prefer my movies to leave all loose ends tied up.
Tom Hanks has a worthy acting co-pilot in Aaron Eckhart, and a well-rounded supporting cast in Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Mike O’Malley, Blake Jones, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan, Valerie Mahaffey, including cameos from Katie Couric, Vincent Lombardi and others.
Tom Stern’s cinematography was superb. The utilization of ALEXA IMAX 65MM cameras to capture the scope and enormity of the landing was done damn near flawlessly and it wasn’t just the landing that was eye-grabbing. For instance, there was a scene where Sully is out for a run at night and he runs through steam which gives him a shadow in the background, that was beautifully shot.
I thought the editing of the film was just sublime. Blu Murray did a superb job in moving from the subplots, seamlessly rather than haphazardly like in other movies. The use of flashbacks from when Sully is out for his run and he sees a jet he used to fly in the Air Force, he flashes back to the last time he encountered a situation where he had to make another successful landing due to a mechanical malfunction with the plane and then back to the present, that style of editing is done with purpose and if it works, that purpose can be felt and I for one felt that purpose.
I thought the sound quality and visual effects were well done. To recreate the Miracle on the Hudson both had to be effective and they were, not only in that particular sequence but when Sully has nightmares, there is impact there.
As we move into the fall season, I can say that Sully started the season with a great degree of thrust. This is another solid effort by Clint Eastwood as he pays tribute to not only a remarkable man who was only doing his job to the best of his ability but to the first responders, fire fighters, police officers, the best New York City had to offer during an time of crisis. Men and women doing their jobs to the best of their ability.
Sully is worthy of seeing and praising. Great film.