Tom Hanks plays Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger

Tom Hanks plays Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger

Reel Reviews: Biopic Sully floats thanks to Hanks

Sully follows the true story of airline pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who safely landed a plane on the Hudson River.

  • Sep. 16, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Commercial airline pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) thought that his Jan. 15, 2009 flight departing from New York would be routine. Almost immediately after takeoff, he flew into a small flock of geese, which disabled both jet engines.

Gliding barely above the busy streets and skyscrapers, Sully knew they wouldn’t make it back to the airport. He landed on the Hudson River and everyone was rescued, which has never happened before.

We say, “Hanks + Sully = Success.”

TAYLOR: I expected to like this film and I did. Sully, being a tale of brief terror and amazed relief, is an easy choice for drama. Tom Hanks is a great choice whenever you need an ordinary person in an extraordinary predicament, particularly if that person says everything with his stare. Sully is stoic, but human. The film is too.

Subtle succeeds on a personal level and director Clint Eastwood allows Hanks his stares, but subtle suffers in would-be blockbusters, so adjustments must be made.

The transformation of the National Transportation Safety Board into “the bad guys” was a bit heavy-handed, but it did key up the available drama in what would have otherwise been reminiscences of a six-minute event. Some say Eastwood’s appreciation of this tangent is a political statement. I say it’s just a movie. If you want the truth watch a documentary.

HOWE: I will agree with you that what the true Sully did on that day was an unbelievably amazing feat, but as for the film, I found it merely OK. The things that I did like outweigh the negative aspects of the film.

The acting yet again from Hanks was top notch and I agree he has that stare that no one else can give. Aaron Eckhart, as co-pilot Jeff Skiles, was also a nice touch, although he seemed to take a side-role to the captain, not saying much and mostly grinning like a Cheshire cat.

But what I can’t forgive are the moustaches the makeup department gave them. This is meant to be the 2000s, not the ‘70s.

The other point I want to touch on are the special effects, or lack of them.

With all the gizmos we have nowadays, they could have done a better job of depicting the plane landing on the Hudson. It looked like an Airfix model landing in a bathtub with the city placed behind it. It was pretty poor.

TAYLOR: I didn’t have a problem with the effects. I thought they were as effective as the rest of the film. It’s put together in a very professional, by-the-book style.

It’s noticeably a self-aware movie: “I know you already know the story, so think about it this way.”

Yet, as I was able to get past Hollywood demonizing the NTSB to create more tension and even forgot the predictable format of its storytelling, I became further engrossed.

It is because Sully is just an amazing tale and we’re seeing it through Hank’s eyes. I knock off a mere half point for cockiness and greed.

HOWE: Don’t get me wrong, Sully is an amazing, interesting story, it’s just that I thought it could have been better made. I don’t think this is Eastwood’s best work.

– Taylor gives Sully 4.5 seat cushions out of 5.

– Howe gives it 3 inflatable rafts out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears in The Morning Star every Friday.