EASTWOOD, HANKS GREAT COMBO
Film Review by Fiore
When I first heard of SULLY, I immediately thought it was a cheap gimmick opportunity for a film. Five years after the incident, and it already deserves a movie? But then I learned Clint Eastwood was helming the project. That, indeed makes a difference for Eastwood is one of the few directors in TinselTown who can, and does, promote films without the overbearing weight of the Hollywood Liberal Looney Left (H3L). He is exceptionally adept at presenting the theme of the strong individual, showing resilience in overwhelming odds. This manner of showcasing the Miracle on the Hudson suddenly gained gravitas with Eastwood at the helm.
The next issue mandating my presence at the press screening was hiring Tom Hanks to star. In the early stages of my film critic career, I was covering Hanks in disposable films such as BACHELOR PARTY. I thought, in the beginning, he was going to be like Seth Rogan, Will Farrell and Adam Sandler, creating largely forgettable opening weekend comedies. Through the years, Hanks has matured, and his talents have soared. Even when he starred in quirky films, like CLOUD ATLAS, which I liked, and often used in my film classes, he offered stellar performances.
Last year, he worked with Stephen Spielberg in BRIDGE OF SPIES. He was nominated for Best Actor considerations for his performance. Working with Eastwood in SULLY, I expected no less a recital. I was not disappointed. Hanks offers a character presentation as strong as his one in BRIDGE OF SPIES. Unfortunately, his portrayal of SULLY is very similar to his characterization of James B. Donovan. For this reason, he may not receive the acting accolades for SULLY, and it may be why the studio, Warner Bros, released the film at summer’s end, rather than during awards season.
The news story is still fresh enough for everyone to remember. US Airways flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport, bound for Charlotte, NC, when, moments after takeoff, a flock of birds flew head on into the plane’s engines, causing both to shut down. Captain Chesley Sullenberger, drawing on his four decades of experience, realized he could not make the return flight to the airport and opted to land the plane on the Hudson River. It is the only time a water landing was attempted without loss of life.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE DREAM
2. THE RIVER RESCUE
3. THE SIMULATION HEARING
SULLY is a decent drama. The film moves quickly, clocking in at just over the ideal time of 90 minutes, thanks to Editor Blu Murray. Eastwood does not drag the film with unnecessary background, nor any H3L agendas. The antagonists here are the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), working in conjunction with the airline’s insurance company. In an effort to avoid massive lawsuits, they seek to pin the incident on Sully alone, absolving the money people from compensations. Typical, really.
Eastwood also allows Cinematographer Tom Stern and Production Designer James Murakami the leeway to indulge viewers with creative aspects of the incidents, selected flying experiences from Sully’s past, and a rather traumatic dream sequence.
I saw SULLY in IMAX, and it definitely makes an impact, especially on the rescue scenes. These tickets are generally pricier, but in this instance, going first-class will be worth it. Both Eastwood and Hanks are in harmony. The result is an enjoyable drama, that preserves a nice slice of history.
THE GRADE FOR SULLY = B