Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
Run Time: 96 mins
‘Sully’ (also known as ‘Sully: Miracle on the Hudson’) is the latest film by Clint Eastwood who has proved quite the career with both a great track record of great performances and assured directorial works and his most recent film, 2015’s ‘American Sniper’ almost made my best films list of that respective year. ‘Sully’ details the story of a pilot, Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger and the 2009 emergency landing of his plane in the Hudson River in which all 155 passengers and crew survived. The film explores the repercussions and publicity this event had in its aftermath with the subsequent investigation by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). The film stars Tom Hanks as the titular character who has also been on a roll lately with hits such as ‘Captain Phillips’ and ‘Bridge of Spies’ and Aaron Eckhart plays his co-pilot, Jeffrey Skiles with Laura Linney rounding out the cast as Sully’s wife.
‘Sully’ is quite workmanlike in its execution but it’s a fascinating subject matter that Eastwood is able to spin a riveting narrative out of and it features some fantastic performances, particularly from Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart. It features an efficient blend of awe-inspiring plane crash sequences that play out in Sully’s mind throughout the film and some gripping investigatory work from the NTSB. Although a lot of this is rather fictionalised, it still makes for great cinematic viewing. However Eastwood’s workmanlike execution is his downfall as he doesn’t particularly do too much out of his comfort zone and this is very alike to some of his other films in its direction – you pretty much get what you expect.
This event that Eastwood has decided to adapt for film perfectly suits him and the deconstructing of the event by the NTSB who investigate what happened is enthralling and Eastwood fires on all cylinders – he clearly has a knack for this with a lot of his other films like ‘Changeling’. The plane crash sequence that repeatedly plays out in Sully’s mind is stunning and is one of the most intense 208 seconds you will see in a film this year – it is expertly staged and really ramps up the tension. The fact that we get to see this from different angles multiple times throughout the film adds further gravitas and depth and is a meticulous re-staging of an event that could have ended in disaster.
The performances in this film are what really propel the source material and Tom Hanks as Sully is fantastic and deserving of an Academy Award nomination. His character is completely empathetic and his PTSD-ridden state after the crash is particularly convincing as his character is deconstructed and we get to see how this ordeal has taken its toll on him. Aaron Eckhart is just as good as his co-pilot giving his best performance since ‘The Dark Knight’ and he offers solid support for Hanks and he too is both empathetic and rational. It’s good to see Eckhart finally redeem himself after a stream of flops and poor decisions and this film showcases the great actor that he can be when he’s in the right film. Laura Linney’s role is quite small but she provides adequate support for Hanks’ character as his wife but her character never really gets developed.
The score by Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band isn’t particularly memorable but features a few solid cues that help to drive the narrative along. Tom Stern, a regular on Clint Eastwood films, shoots this film perfectly and there are some awe-inspiring shots particularly in the plane-crash sequences that really get to showcase his cinematographic skills.
Ultimately, ‘Sully’ is another winner for Eastwood and is a gripping retelling of this extraordinary event anchored by winning performances by Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart. It is rather workmanlike and doesn’t particularly propel Eastwood to new heights but it’s still a great watch and I was totally enamoured with it for the full 96-minute run time. In terms of Awards prospects, I wouldn’t be surprised if Eastwood manages to sneak into the Best Picture race like he did with ‘American Sniper’ and although it deserves a nod for Hanks and Eckhart, I don’t think it will get it. But as a film, ‘Sully’ is great work by Eastwood and is definitely an enthralling cinematic experience.