Pin It
Favorite

Learning to Land 

Sully's solid execution can't overcome its inherent lack of drama

click to enlarge Tom Hanks (left) plays famed airline captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Aaron Eckhart (right) plays his co-pilot.
  • Tom Hanks (left) plays famed airline captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Aaron Eckhart (right) plays his co-pilot.

Spoiler alert: The plane lands in the water. Clint Eastwood's Sully tells the story of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) piloting a commercial airliner to a water landing on the Hudson River with zero casualties (dubbed "The Miracle on the Hudson") in January 2009, and the ensuing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board to determine if Sullenberger was at fault.

Well, remember how the plane actually crashed into the New York skyline? Or the scandal when it turned out that Sully was an incompetent pilot who needlessly endangered his passengers and crew for no reason? Of course you don't. That didn't happen. Therein lies Sully's major problem — it's a movie entirely devoid of dramatic stakes.

Sully's problem isn't that it's a poorly made film. The execution is fairly solid across the board, but it lacks a reason to be made in the first place. While not on the award-worthy tier, Hanks delivers an understated everyman performance as Sullenberger. He's the portrait of anxiety under a calm exterior, as he struggles with seeds of doubt planted by the NTSB that he may have made an error, as well as press attention and general post-traumatic stress disorder. The latter issue manifests itself in the film's most jarring sequences, via trigger-warning-worthy nightmares that could still shake those traumatized by images of planes flying into New York buildings.

Aaron Eckhart deftly adds a sense of smooth ease (and light comic relief) to the proceedings as Sullenberger's co-pilot, Jeff Skiles. The script affords short side stories to a few of US Airways Flight 1549's passengers in the name of humanization; they end up being brief to the point of feeling like filler to pad out the 96-minute runtime.

The narrative conflict becomes man (Sullenberger) versus machine (the computer simulations that say he could've made it safely back to the airport, and the NTSB officials who treat those calculations as gospel). More to the point, it's old-school instincts versus fancy-schmancy technology and analytics. In that sense, Sully is the anti-Moneyball. As the NTSB characters go aggressively over the top, grilling Sullenberger (despite... you know... everyone being safe), he speaks to his gut feelings: how he completed thousands of flights over the course of 40 years, and how "engineers are not pilots. They're wrong. And they weren't there." The script, by Todd Komarnicki (Resistance, Perfect Stranger) presents this thesis with such a bludgeoning lack of subtlety that the technophobia has a "get off my lawn!" feel. But that forced tension lacks authentic drama. (Do you really think that Clint Eastwood, of all people, would make a shocking exposé that drags an American hero through the mud?) Sully's climactic sequence is literally people watching flight simulators in real time. No matter how much manipulatively tense music you place underneath it, it's still watching people watch a flight simulator.

As Eastwood's straightforward and simplistic directing style pushes the drama-free plot forward, the dim, cool color palette employed throughout only further dulls the proceedings; it's not a turbulent ride. Ultimately, it's impossible to shake the feeling that Sully is nothing more than pointless, quasi-patriotic fluff made by an old white guy for his fellow old white people. ♦

Trailer


Sully
Rated PG-13 · 96 minutes · 2016
Official Site: www.sully-movie.com
Director: Clint Eastwood
Producer: Clint Eastwood, Frank Marshall, Allyn Stewart, Tim Moore, Steven Mnuchin, Kipp Nelson and Bruce Berman
Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Valerie Mahaffey, Delphi Harrington, Mike O'Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Anna Gunn, Holt McCallany, Ahmed Lucan, Laura Linney, Wayne Bastrup, Jerry Ferrara and Autumn Reeser

Now Playing

Afternoon

3:15 PM Regal Spokane Valley Stadium 12
14706 E Indiana Ave.
Sully
4:30 PM Village Center Airway Heights
10117 W. State Route 2
Sully
4:30 PM Village Centre Cinemas Wandermere
12622 North State Route 395
Sully
4:35 PM Regal Cinemas Riverstone Stadium 14
2416 Old Mill Loop
Sully
4:45 PM Bonner Mall Cinemas
300 Bonner Mall Way, #3087
Sully
4:50 PM Pullman Village Centre Cinemas
1085 S.E. Bishop Blvd.
Sully
5:30 PM AMC River Park Square 20
808 W. Main
Sully
6:30 PM Regal Spokane Valley Stadium 12
14706 E Indiana Ave.
Sully
6:40 PM Village Center Airway Heights
10117 W. State Route 2
Sully
6:40 PM Village Centre Cinemas Wandermere
12622 North State Route 395
Sully
7:00 PM Bonner Mall Cinemas
300 Bonner Mall Way, #3087
Sully
7:10 PM Northtown Mall Stadium 12
4750 N. Division St.
Sully
7:15 PM Regal Cinemas Riverstone Stadium 14
2416 Old Mill Loop
Sully
7:20 PM Pullman Village Centre Cinemas
1085 S.E. Bishop Blvd.
Sully
8:00 PM AMC River Park Square 20
808 W. Main
Sully
8:40 PM Village Center Airway Heights
10117 W. State Route 2
Sully
9:10 PM Village Center Airway Heights
10117 W. State Route 2
Sully
9:15 PM Village Centre Cinemas Wandermere
12622 North State Route 395
Sully
9:50 PM Pullman Village Centre Cinemas
1085 S.E. Bishop Blvd.
Sully
9:50 PM Northtown Mall Stadium 12
4750 N. Division St.
Sully
10:05 PM Regal Spokane Valley Stadium 12
14706 E Indiana Ave.
Sully
10:10 PM Regal Cinemas Riverstone Stadium 14
2416 Old Mill Loop
Sully

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Enemy No. 1
  • Enemy No. 1

    Oliver Stone's Snowden doesn't break new ground but is still a thrill ride
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • True West
  • True West

    The Magnificent Seven returns to a much-needed territory: Western heroism
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Scratch That
  • Scratch That

    Bridget Jones's Baby feels almost proudly stuck in another era
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
David Liebe Hart music/puppets/video show

David Liebe Hart music/puppets/video show @ The Big Dipper

Fri., Sept. 30, 7:30-11 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Seth Sommerfeld

  • Wedded Miss
  • Wedded Miss

    Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates needs to go away
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Feminist First

    Through her music, Dolly Parton has always shown women how to stay strong
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Art of the Deal

    Local indie labels offer artists another marketing option, but not everyone is convinced they're necessary
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

COUNTRY


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Behind the Music
  • Behind the Music

    The Grammy Awards are about much more than what you see on TV
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation