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Director: Clint Eastwood
Everyone knows Clint Eastwood as the badass ‘Man With No Name’ (from the likes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) and from his many outings as ‘Dirty Harry’ (The Enforcer), but in the decades since his time as a western and action star Eastwood has established himself as a directing force to be reckoned with.
Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, and Unforgiven are all well-weighted films with deeply impactful themes and a reserved directing style to compliment them. And although I found Hereafter mediocre and fell asleep in J. Edgar, I’m always keen to see whatever the man has cooked up.
Well, I certainly did not fall asleep in Sully. The film follows the real life tale of the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson.” Dealing with the event and aftermath of a fateful forced water landing (not a crash) that left all 155 passengers and crew alive, the film centres on Captain Sullenberger, a distinct everyman, who is at odds with the media circus surrounding him as well as the scrutiny he faces from investigation of the incident.
It should come as no surprise that Tom Hanks nails the character perfectly. The man’s an acting legend and seems to excel at “Captain” roles (see Captain Philips and Saving Private Ryan). Hanks, with subtle attention to detail, expertly brings the anxious psyche.
Every sequence is well handled, with many difficult scenes in the cockpit and boardrooms coming across excellently, but somehow the film fails to add up to something grander. Perhaps it was the non-linear storyline, as from scene to scene it did not often feel like progress was being made or that the story was building to something greater. It was the miniscule moments that made some of the material shine and I guess that can be admired, even if it maybe wasn’t the approach I expected.
There is something to be said for the fact that this movie has all the preliminary signs for Oscars bait. It’s “based on a true story” about a “real life American hero” and stars a recognised older Hollywood actor, with an even older Hollywood heavyweight behind the camera. It even does that thing where the title is the last name of the character. But instead of “having that one scene where he loses it” or “putting on so much weight for the role” or “not breaking character for the whole film shoot,” Hanks is far more subdued and so is the film. In the end it boils down to a story which praises a small group of people’s heroics in response to a crisis which could turned out far worse.