HOLLYWOOD—I have always been a fan of Clint Eastwood, the actor/director/producer knows how to craft cinema in a way that really strikes the spectator at the core with a flurry of emotions. Rather it’s “Million Dollar Baby,” “Gran Torino” or “Unforgiven,” not many can argue with me that Eastwood is a genius behind the camera.
Well, he has done it again, with his biographical drama “Sully” which takes a deeper dive a the heroic airplane rescue at the hands of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger back in January 2009 near the Hudson River in New York City. The story made national headlines when he ensured the safety of all 155 passengers and crew aboard the plane, where only minor injuries were sustained.
Captain Sully is portrayed by Oscar-winner Tom Hanks who absolutely immerses himself into the role, not just by fitting the body type, but by dying his hair and finding a way to capture the real-life mannerisms and characters of this heralded hero amidst a bit of controversy.
Eastwood opens the movie with that heroic rescue mission that is enthralling to watch captured on the big screen. Clint finds a way to make the spectator feel as if they’re aboard that plane; I mean can you imagine being on a plane and realizing that there is a grave possibility that your life as you know it is about to end because of some freak act of nature that was unexpected. To be honest the opening is what grabs hold of the viewer and refuses to let go until the end credits begin to roll.
Amidst that flight we’re also introduced to Sully’s co-pilot Jeff Skiles portrayed by Aaron Eckhart. Eckhart delivers a solid supporting role as Sully’s champion when controversy about what ‘really’ transpired on the plane becomes public knowledge. Now, I will admit when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I immediately thought it was a retelling of the 2012 flick “Flight” starring Denzel Washington, only he was a pilot who landed a plane while intoxicated.
While Hanks’ character is not suffering from alcoholism, he is suffering from PTSD, recounting that historic day, but only with different results of the plane crashing instead of him safely landing the plane in the Hudson River. The drama of the movie is only heightened with the presence of the media digging into Sully’s career and his personal life which creates a bit of a strain on his marriage with Lorraine (Laura Linney).
Regardless how the real-life events attempt to depict the situation, what “Sully” does well is allowing the audience to connect with a man who holds the title of a ‘hero’ even though it’s not one he wants to hold. Yes, “Sully” tackles that fine line of those who are seeking fame and those who are actually running away from it. Hanks poised performance should indeed land him a Best Actor nomination if you ask me; his performance is such a breath of fresh air, and Hanks’ charisma as an actor totally carries the narrative. Many should also begin to write in Clint Eastwood as a contender in the Best Director race as well.
While entering the theater, you might have a bit of knowledge about what actually transpired in January 2009, but what Eastwood does with “Sully” is deliver a more layered narrative giving the audience a larger perspective behind the man who was labeled a hero for doing something that frankly most pilots would never be able to accomplish.