The Bock’s Office: ‘Sully’ lands well as depiction of recent history
September 22, 2016
A jet slamming into the middle of a frigid waterway may not have been seen as a best-case scenario before Jan. 15, 2009, but the film "Sully" reminds us that you can't always anticipate everything that comes at you.
If you go…
"Sully," rated PG-13
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Running time: 96 minutes
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney and Anna Gunn
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.
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Capt. Chelsey Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) has just done the impossible.
During a routine flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport, an unexpected hazard during takeoff leaves the plane badly damaged, forcing Sully and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) to make a drastic emergency landing in the Hudson River.
With all crew and passengers safely accounted for in the frenzied aftermath, the seasoned pilot is hailed as an instant American hero.
However, the praise isn't quite universal — an inquiry by the National Transportation Safety Board calls into question Sully's judgment call, statistics showing the spectacular landing may have been all for naught and that making it back to a runway was entirely possible.
As the inquest continues, Sully himself starts to doubt whether his actions were necessary or if he may have just gotten incredibly lucky while putting more than 100 lives at risk.
With a silver mane and mustache, Hanks is hardly recognizable as the man who went from average citizen to the nation's favorite person in a matter of seconds. The actor's likeability factor helps but isn't needed much for a guy who is forever humble in the public eye though staunchly confident, even approaching arrogance, when he facing a barrage of queries from a panel of bean-counters.
To be fair, when you've been in the air for more than four decades, you've earned the right to be sure of yourself and your abilities.
Eckhart backs him every step of the way as his junior associate and first officer, Skiles showing complete faith in Sully's decisions and frustration with the bureaucratic rigmarole they must endure after coming so close to losing it all.
Laura Linney is underutilized, but understandably so, as Sully's wife, Lorraine, only getting a small segment of the story across the country but providing a sympathetic ear over the phone while also trying to keep calm and cope with the sudden shock.
When you take it all into account — the unusually high flock of geese that caused the engine failure, the data that suggests a return approach was reasonable and the emergency personnel who took over once the place was in the water — Miracle on the Hudson really did live up to the name.
Direction by Clint Eastwood is all about the precision that could only come from everyone doing their part, with flashbacks recreating the risky procedure not only from the cockpit but also the plane's cabin, the air traffic control tower and the teams of police and firefighters who jumped into action, and seeing this come together the way it does makes it even more impressive in hindsight.
The mindset of the man at its center is delicately done as well, Sully nothing like the inebriated pilot of the similar scenario in 2012's fictitious "Flight" but no less introspective, unable to shake the feeling that he shouldn't have been able to walk away from such a landing and uncomfortable being called a hero.
Still, when you're meeting with Katie Couric or David Letterman, just smile and nod.
"Sully" reminds us that in spite of all the troubles of the world, everything can go right once in a great while. Though it hoists its protagonist a little too high on its shoulders, the movie doesn't ask us to accept that blindly, rather just to appreciate that amid the chaos and catastrophe, life goes on, and even if they don't want the prestige, those who get their 15 minutes of fame deserve it.
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