Clint Eastwood steps behind the camera once again to film the story of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the day that changed his life; landing a damaged plane on the Hudson River and saving everyone on board, turning him into a national hero. With Tom Hanks taking on Sully, Aaron Eckhart as his co-pilot Jeff Skiles and Laura Linney as wife Lorrainne, everything is set for a strong portrayal of an eventful few days, to put it mildly. Opening to rave reviews in America, it took a few months for it to appear in the UK, does it live up to that hype?
Firstly, Hanks is relentlessly delightful, he can practically do no wrong and when we’re introduced to our pilot and he navigates his way through these infinitely stressful events, he’s immediately exactly what you want, charming, capable and confident. Choosing Hanks for this role had to be the easiest of choices and the rest of the cast simply falls into place around his fantastic performance, especially Eckhart who seems to relish in the role of side-kick and confidant. The actually opening sequence of the film however is another story, choosing to represent the possible and extremely deadly version of events that could have occurred feels cheap and an entirely unnecessary and uncomfortable choice, crashing a plane into a building is not something audiences need on the big screen. Representing Sully’s entirely understandable PTSD could have been achieved by much more subtle and appropriate methods.
Moving away from that, the rest of the story and the questioning of Sully and Skiles, determining whether the right choice was made, provided a fascinating insight into a moment where you can begin to doubt yourself, even when you’ve done the right thing. The film is a testament to the strength a person can have when they’re put to the test and the inspiring results and that comes across on screen effectively, it doesn’t delve too deep or darkly and manages to add in some humour to keep things from becoming too heavy.
Sully’s story is an incredible example of what one person can achieve in moments of fear and catastrophe, as well as how the world may try to belittle or deny that achievement. It will bring tears and emotions to the surface but as a whole it manages to break the surface without delving too deeply, lacking that real punch to the gut that Eastwood’s given with American Sniper, Gran Torino or Million Dollar Baby.