Clint Eastwood’s Sully is a straightforward account of heroism on trial. At only 96 minutes it is one of Eastwood’s most blunt instruments for showcasing an American hero, but that doesn’t mean its anything short of being concise and completely engaging. Rather than turning it into an action-packed summer blockbuster, Eastwood opts for subtle, quiet, and thoughtful execution.
From Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper,” “Million Dollar Baby”) comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “Sully,” starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks (“Bridge of Spies,” “Forrest Gump”) as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.
On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career.
“Sully” also stars Aaron Eckhart (“Olympus Has Fallen,” “The Dark Knight”) as Sully’s co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, and Oscar nominee Laura Linney (“The Savages,” “Kinsey,” Showtime’s “The Big C”) as Sully’s wife, Lorrie Sullenberger.
Eastwood is directing the film from a screenplay by Todd Komarnicki, based on the book Highest Duty by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow. The project is being produced by Eastwood, Frank Marshall, Allyn Stewart and Tim Moore, with Kipp Nelson and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers. ~ Warner Bros
Sully is like most of Eastwood’s characters: sturdy, virtuous, rigid, made of things that Eastwood values and feels the new generation lacks. Sully goes about proving that his decision to land in the Hudson was the right choice in a resolute yet humane way, despite the National Transportation Safety Board’s nearly vengeful efforts to show him as a villain who rather put all those lives in jeopardy. In true Eastwood fashion, Sully examines the humanistic, emotional mindscapes of a man who did exceptional and astonishing things. This theme is one that carries over from films of his such as Unforgiven and American Sniper.
The film shows Sully as he struggles with PTSD, as well as self doubt when certain evidences are brought forward to try and discredit his actions. We are shown the events of the crash in several different ways, each time showing us a different perspective and shedding new light on how the entire puzzle fits together. This wouldn’t have been the same film without Tom Hanks, to be sure. He is one of the last true Hollywood greats, reminiscent of a time of Gary Coopers, James Stewarts, and Spencer Tracys – an actor whose persona on and off screen is one of true, natural decency. It shines through here as Hanks tackles the dimensions of Sully’s situation, struggles, and perseverance to clear his name of doubt.
The support cast is rather one dimensional, serving as vehicles to show Sully’s fears and concerns. Unwaveringly allegiant co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) gives Sully a place to articulate his fears and ideas to the audience, and Sully’s wife, Lorraine (Laura Linney), fares worse. They never share screen time together, and through a series of phone calls we see that Sully is worried about his family as well as getting some pressure from that aspect of his situation.
That being said, much of the issues with the supporting cast is due to the fact that Komarnicki’s script is lean nearly to a fault. Eastwood follows suit, leaving zero fat on Sully and making it one of his shortest films yet. However, Eastwood is masterful at his craft, and delivers a concise, meaty film. Every shot is beautiful, every shot has purpose, no time is wasted on long artistic panning or lingering unnecessary conversations. It feels like a much longer film than it is due to the sheer amount of information and events that are delicately layered over the 96 minutes. Eastwood has shown us yet again why he’s one of the best in the business.