If there’s one Hollywood actor you can have faith will deliver in each and every movie they’re in, it’s Tom Hanks. The two-time Oscar-winner takes to the skies in Clint Eastwood’s highly anticipated Sully, an extraordinary true story about one man who safely landed 155 people in the Hudson River and became a national hero.
The film continues Eastwood’s fascination with real life heroes in unbelievable situations. Just a few years ago, Eastwood directed Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, which eventually had the actor getting nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars. Here, Eastwood teams up with Hanks to tell another tale of bravery and selflessness.
Sully is good, but not quite as pristine and balanced as American Sniper or Million Dollar Baby.
For a film about the “Miracle on the Hudson,” little is spent with the actual landing. The full crash sequence in the film is no doubt worth the price of an admission ticket alone. The tense scene is emotional and thrilling. Unfortunately, nothing aside from this outstanding scene is overly impressive in the film.
The film is split between the National Transportation Safety Board hearings that Sully and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) attend and the personal struggles that Sullenberger faces after the plane landing.
These scenes of personal struggle and board hearings fill up the remaining storyline of the film. The details of the investigation are intriguing, but the National Transportation Safety Board officials are just presented as one-dimensional trope characters and become the weakest aspect of the film. These are well-acted board scenes and offer fascinating details into the landing on the Hudson, but they also feel trite and unneeded in the extent that they are used.
What’s far more engaging is Hanks and the way he emotes his self-doubts about the crash situation. As he comprehends that he will be forever judged for his actions over a short-lived timeframe, the audience truly gets to relate and feel for the character. Tom Hanks is unsurprisingly good here, giving us another performance that harkens back to his recent work in Captain Phillips. Tom Hanks epitomizes the “good guy” that overcomes all impossible odds by not cracking under pressure.
The rest of the cast gets thrown to the wayside, however. They do the most they can with what Eastwood gives them. Aaron Eckhart has a few standup moments with Hanks in the spotlight but doesn’t get much beyond that. Laura Linney spends the bulk of her entire role on the phone as Sullenberger’s worried wife.
In terms of directing, Eastwood still exhibits the perfect qualities to shoot action and intense dramatic moments without being overly melodramatic and cliché (for the most part). As mentioned, this film is just another chance for Eastwood to tell a story about the “everyman” and dealing with the inconceivable.
Overall, Sully is a solid look at what it takes to be a hero and how one deals with the repercussions of their actions. Considering films like Flight have come out so recently, Sully does feels like a slight retread. But it ultimately works due to the concise direction of Eastwood and the reliable Tom Hanks.