When news initially made the rounds that Clint Eastwood’s next project would be a take on the pilot behind the headline making event known as the ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ I’m sure more than a fair share were rolling their collective eyes at the very thought. I mean how much drama could possibly be wrung from an incident that lasted just a tad over two hundred seconds? Even if one could come up with enough dramatic material to make a feature film out of this incident, would anyone care to make the effort to trek to the theater to see it? Well, the answer to that last question remains to be seen but as far as Eastwood’s ability to wring drama out of a story that we all thought we knew, let’s just say that the veteran actor/director has a trick or two up his sleeve. Even if the narrative is stretched a bit thin at times, Sully the film manages to pull through much as Sully the pilot did on that fateful day.
The film opens, fittingly, with a riveting plane crash, excellently staged by Eastwood. We all know that directing is largely a young man’s game and that’s what makes the film all the more interesting. Being that we are privy to the knowledge that Eastwood the director is not a young man anymore but now just a few years shy of tuning 90, his physical ability to pull this kind of film off is all the more astounding.
As I said, the film starts off with a plane crash but not the one that was responsible for thrusting Sully into the limelight. Rather it’s a recurring dream that the veteran pilot has been having for quite some time and the film sets it up as if the dream was a premonition of things to come. Sully is capably played by Tom Hanks, now 60, but still boyish enough that it’s obvious he’s purposely had to make himself look older for the role. Sully is a family man just doing his job and Hanks is so tailor made for these kinds of roles that he could probably phone it in although it’s clear he’s giving it his all.
Of course, the dramatization of the actual incident is well staged and then the film goes through the machinations of the ensuing investigation that took place after Sully’s triumph. Some of those scenes get to be a bit repetitive as the incident is replayed time and again in flashback but by and large it’s only a small demerit. In the grand scheme of things, Sully must be commended for being able to hold the attention of its audience with such a small amount of material with which to work. I’m not sure this is going to be the awards darling that Eastwood and company are hoping for but it’s a decent film, nevertheless.
Sully is playing in Hickory and all around this area.
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Tom Hanks as hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger