Review: Sully

A “fine, subtle performance” from Tom Hanks allows Clint Eastwood’s take on the famed Hudson River plane landing depicted in Sully to take off.

Clint Eastwood (four-time Oscar-winner and all-round US national treasure) directed, co-produced and wrote and performed the main musical theme for this true tale shortly after completing American Sniper and Jersey Boys, and that’s quite an achievement, given that he recently turned 86, an age when many of us would have trouble getting to the movies, let alone actually making one (or three).

It’s also surprising that so many of his films as director seem so progressive in their politics and left-leaning in tone, when we all know that in fact he’s a staunch Republican, an Obama hater and (gasp!) a Trump supporter (or at least apologist). Drawn from Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger’s autobiography Highest Duty (co-written by Jeffrey Zaslow and adapted for the screen by Todd Komarnicki), this has Tom Hanks, of course, as Sully, the Captain behind the ‘Miracle On The Hudson’ when he was forced to make a ‘water landing’ (not crash) in the river, after disaster hit US Airways Flight 1549 three minutes after take-off on January 15 2009.

And, of course, all 155 ‘souls’ on board survived, and while you surely know the story of Sully during his period of international celebrity, this studies how he was haunted by ‘What Ifs’ and how his reputation was at stake as questions were asked about whether or not he could have made it back to La Guardia or another airport.

We investigate a little of Sully’s distinguished career as a pilot and see him on the phone with his worried wife Lorraine (Laura Linney), and Eastwood also naturally recreates the event itself: the ‘bird strike’ by Canadian geese, the engine failure, the hitting of the water, the panic, the cold, the rescue and the 24 minutes or so that united New York (if only for a short while).

How could the grim-faced authorities and insurance bods decide Sully was in the wrong and disgrace him? Even if that’s what those grim-faced authorities and insurance bods are mostly there for? With good work from Linney (in a slightly thankless part), Aaron Eckhart as First Officer Jeff Skiles and a large cast in small roles as passengers, this is still mostly about Hanks’ fine, subtle performance, which dominates the proceedings, even if he actually does and says notably little.

And whatever next for Clint? Yet another directorial effort? Or should he instead kick back on the nearest couch and put his feet up? He’s certainly earned the right to relax.

Rate M. Sully is in cinemas now.

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