Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
Clint Eastwood is a very consistent director. His stuff is always shot well. However, he cannot always tell a good script (Mystic River, Unforgiven, In the Line of Fire) from a bad one (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Hereafter).
Sully falls somewhere in the middle of Eastwood’s oeuvre. It’s not terrible but not very complex either. A few things keep this flick aloft – a wonderfully simple performance by Tom Hanks, some fantastic moments at the beginning, and a tight pace.
Other than that, this film isn’t going to shock you much. It’s like it’s hero – solid, workmanlike, and dependable.
In January of 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Hanks) was three minutes into a flight from La Guardia Airport when Canadian geese disabled of his motors. The pilot landed his plane on the icy waters of the Hudson River. This act saved the lives of all 150 passengers and five crew members aboard. However, soon after the airline and the FAA – with their computer models and mathematics – started to question Sully’s story. They launched a huge investigation.
Sully went from being a “hero” – a term he argued against – to being thrown into doubt.
This is the sort of story Eastwood likes – the common man doing uncommon things, and the challenges he faces in doing them. (See American Sniper.) Unfortunately, Sully doesn’t hold the complications Eastwood brought to other projects. (See his work in the small but wonderful Gran Torino.)
Sully isn’t distant history, so most of us remember how this ends.
Still, Hanks – our modern-day Jimmy Stewart – finds the everyman quality to his character. Hanks’ performance displays Sully’s steadfastness and his later doubt. We don’t like Sully simply because all the news reports seven years ago made him charming, homespun, and conscientious. We love him because Hanks brings such warmth and simple grace to the role.
Sully’s supporting players are also nice. Eckhart gives a sturdy performance as Sully’s copilot, friend, and biggest defender. However, poor Laura Linney – a much better actress than the parts she’s been given lately – just plays the Hell out of the boring, stereotypical “dutiful wife” part.
There’s good stuff here; the spectacular crash, the beautiful palette to the filming, and the tight running time. Still, casting Hanks is the best decision Eastwood made. Hanks is probably like Sully, just considering he was doing his job by giving such rock-solid acting. However, Hanks is clearly the hero of this flight.