A THRILLING, BUT THOUGHTFUL CHARACTER-DRIVEN EXPERIENCE AND SOLID TRIBUTE TO A REAL HERO!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: **** out of 4
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Tom Hanks as the man who saved many lives by landing a plane in the Hudson River in Sully
Wow, just wow, director, Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, American Sniper) knew exactly what he was doing when he decided to dramatize the true events of airplane pilot, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the man who prevented the deaths of 155 passengers by landing his impacted plane into the Hudson River. A lot of Eastwood’s directed movies lately have been hit or miss, Gran Torino, which he both directed and starred in, in my opinion was one of my favorite films he’s done in his career and Invictus, which was also a very solid movie, but he had plenty of duds like Hereafter, J. Edgar, and Jersey Boys, but none of those movies I thought were “Bad”, just nothing special and a step backwards from this talented man.
But after the critical and commercial success of last year’s American Sniper, he hits another bullseye with his latest film, Sully, starring Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, Bridge of Spies) as the titular man. I don’t know much about its historical accuracy, but this is one of those rare movies where I can believe each and every minute of it.
Set on January 15, 2009, the film follows veteran US Airway pilots, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Hanks) and First Officer, Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart-Thank You For Smoking, The Dark Knight, Olympus Has Fallen) boarding the US Airways Flight 1549, departing from LaGuardia Airport and taking off. So far everything is off to a smooth start…for about three minutes, then suddenly disaster strikes when the Airbus A320 hits a flock of geese and cripples both engines.
Without engine power and no airport within range, Sully manages to land the plane into the Hudson River and thus saving 155 lives. After pulling a wild stunt like that and saving all his passengers and flight attendants, Sully is then dubbed a hero by the press.
However shortly afterwards Sully’s life is invaded by reporters and investigators who force him to put his job, family, and reputation on the line and prove that it was the only way to save his passengers.
Overall, Sully is one of the best biographical movies I’ve seen in years, it had me hooked from start to finish, I cared for the characters, and it offers massive thrills. The movie executes the plane crash wonderfully and it feels larger than life when watching it on IMAX, it’s a moment that kept me on the edge of my seat.
Really, the dramatization of the plane crash isn’t the main focus, nor should it be, it’s an epic sequence but this is more of an emotional, character-driven story, and a lot of movies based on true stories follow a lot of clichés and a lot of scenes feel forced, this movie feels 100% legit with its characters, dialogue, emotion, and writing, I almost forgot I was watching Tom Hanks portray Sullenberger.
It’s one of those emotional journeys where it never loses my interest, every minute of the picture feels important and something Christopher Nolan should take notes on is one huge element to a strong story. I cared for these people, because not everything is exposition and analyzing, the characters can talk about how they’re feeling or what’s going on in the world, nobody is restrained to just the job or mission, they’re allowed to act like…Real People, no disrespect Nolan.
Of course what really sells this movie is Tom Hanks’ performance as Sully, this is an actor who I never get bored or tired of watching. Everything Hanks says and does in this movie (and pretty much most of the films in his career) feel very important and he puts a lot of effort into his performance and he practically transforms into the real man.
Speaking of Hanks, a lot of scenes in the movie are told in a way that reminds me of Forrest Gump, where it feels like you’re experiencing the story of this man’s life as he’s telling it to you. Of course that’s not the only Tom Hanks film that I thought of when watching the movie, the plane crash reminded me of Cast Away and that he and the passengers were rescued by boats felt a little bit like Captain Phillips, except there were no pirates out to get him.
This is an example of a movie that encompasses everything that makes Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood great in film. Also it makes for a refreshing take on the “True Story” genre that doesn’t follow the same old clichés, there’s no real villain or harsh punishment, it’s just watching people doing their job and you caring for every one of them.
It’s a great movie on its own and a thought-provoking tribute to an extraordinary man.
And I made no references to Flight, that’s odd!