Sully : Review
Sully is a solid if unremarkable biographical drama from Clint Eastwood that retells one of the most compelling real-life dramas of recent times. Far from being the director’s best work, it is nonetheless an extremely watchable piece of popcorn cinema.
The film charts the real-life events surrounding Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s miraculous landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on New York’s Hudson River. It takes us not only through the events of the incident itself, but also the subsequent media hoopla and investigation which followed.
The film’s main strength is undoubtedly Tom Hanks, an inherently likeable and charismatic presence who wonderfully conveys Sully’s humble every-man persona. Hanks captures the moments of doubt that Sully faces in the aftermath of the events, as well as the poise and sense of duty he showed throughout. His measured yet impassioned comments at the final hearing of the National Transportation Safety Board is Hanks at his very best. Calm, direct and devastatingly powerful.
In many ways,the fact we already know how this story ends means we need another point of focus to give us any sense of drama. This is exactly what Hanks provides. Through his performance, the film becomes not just about the crash, but also about the man who saved the day and the toll that it took on him.
Eastwood manages to recreate the dramatic and tense moments following the disastrous bird strike itself perfectly too. He shifts you to the edge of your seat and allowing you to experience every nerve-racking moment from first impact, right up until every soul on board is successfully accounted for.
It does however become clear at some stage in the film that there wasn’t perhaps quite enough material for a feature length film without a fair bit of dramatic licence and a great deal of padding. The former can be forgiven of course, after all, the overly antagonistic nature of the safety board may be grossly exaggerated but this makes for much better cinema. It is after all intended as a dramatic retelling, not a documentary. However there still doesn’t feel like there is quite enough material to create a fully fledged story and the flashbacks to Sully’s younger days feel a tad irrelevant.
That being said, Sully holds your attention throughout its 96 minute runtime and while it’s not a ground breaking movie by any means, it performs its function more than capably. Eastwood delivers a comfortable and entertaining drama that pays due reverence to a real life hero.
(Image credit :Warner Bros)