Review: Sully

Tom Hanks as Sully
Tom Hanks as Sully

Starring: Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Aaron Eckhart, Sam Huntington, Max Adler
Director : Clint Eastwood, 96 Minutes

You knew it would eventually happen. It was written in the stars that Clint Eastwood would one day direct a movie starring Tom Hanks. With Sully, these two icons have the perfect story to tell and should clean up nicely at the box-office.

However, let’s not get carried away and call this an Oscar-worthy film like so many critics have been doing, using words like “masterpiece” as if this is some sort of cinematic treasure. It’s not. Sully is a good film, but it’s not profound or transformational. It’s simple, no-frills storytelling that will hold your attention for a well-paced 96 minutes.

Review: SullyThis true heroic story couldn’t have come at a better time. With so much angst percolating in this country and nightly newscasts filled with villains, it’s nice to be reminded of what a real hero looks like. Sully doesn’t wear blue tights nor does he end up fighting Batman. What he does do is land an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River in the middle of winter and, in so doing, miraculously saves every single soul on US Airways Flight 1549.

Everyone already knows that part of the story. What most don’t know is the drama that plays out after as Sully’s emergency landing is meticulously examined by the National Transportation Safety Board. This is where the film has some real teeth. Should he have landed that plane in the Hudson River or was there enough time to fly back to a nearby runway? The narrative plays out in hotels and courtrooms for most of the film, which made me scratch my head as to why Eastwood shot this flick for IMAX.

The acting is fine and nobody is over doing it or putting on an “Oscar bait” performance. Both Laura Linney and Anna Gunn are solid in supportive roles, but completely underutilized. Aaron Eckhart as the co-pilot was a great casting choice. Both he and Hanks bring subtle, believable personality to their roles as pilots looking like deer in the headlights. Hanks plays the humble hero, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, like he always does. There is a certain genius to this actor that I don’t think we fully appreciate yet. It’s so easy to say, “Here’s Tom Hanks playing Tom Hanks,” but what we’re really saying is, “Here’s Tom Hanks knocking another role out of the park.” Eastwood’s resume will finally have another decent film to add – God knows he hasn’t had one since 2008’s Gran Torino (was that autobiographical, by the way?) – but it’s really Hanks who makes this thing soar to a respectable cruising altitude.

This film might get an Oscar nod or two as the Academy loves themselves some Eastwood and Hanks. I wouldn’t even call it outrageous if Hanks gets a Best Actor nomination. But largely this film could be forgotten when juicier crowd-pleasers are released in the coming months. It’s a great story that’s definitely worth checking out, but not something you need to rush to see just because it has the IMAX tag on it.

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