Sully tells the untold story of the “Miracle on the Hudson” in which Captain Sully made the questionable decision to land a flight full of passengers on to the Hudson River. Sully is immediately declared a hero, but Sully’s superiors think otherwise.
The newest film directed by Clint Eastwood brings Tom Hanks into another role in which he plays a man put into a position that could change his life and the life of others forever. The film is told in a non-linear sense. We are thrust into the story following the landing, and the rest of the film goes back and forth to the flight, and to the current situation in which Sully finds himself. By no means do I have a problem with a story starting in medias res, and at first this one seemed to be going off to a good start. But as the film went on, I found myself getting pulled out of the story. The constant flashbacks go back to the flight and changes points of views from Sully, to the passengers, and to the witnesses to the landing. In all honesty, it grew very tiresome. For me I only needed one flashback. They could have shown each POV in one scene and it still would have had the same effect. It doesn’t help that it’s completely pointless to introduce particular passengers as if they had any importance to the story. That’s not to say these scenes aren’t engaging (hell they are the only dramatic and intense scenes in the movie). The effects in this sequences were very well done and didn’t get too CGI happy. Had the flashbacks not been so frequent, they could have done a lot more with the story as far showing the struggles Sully was going through. We see him having nightmares and hallucinations of what could have potentially happened, but that’s as dramatic as the post-events get. We don’t however, get a sense of the overall emotions Sully was feeling and how it really affected him. Instead we get scenes of him shooting the breeze with his co-captain played by Aaron Eckhart, or making phone calls to his wife played by Laura Linney. Both of these instances could have brought on some good depth and emotions to the characters at hand, but the ended up becoming pretty bland. All that aside, at the center of things and by the time the final act comes around, it makes you think about what constitutes a hero and about the choices we make that could define us.
As usual Tom Hanks provides a strong performance. We do get a sense of the kind of man Sully was through Hanks’ performance as a result of Hanks really losing himself in the character. We know Hanks can convey emotion, so I really felt that was missing from the role. Aaron Eckhart also turns in a fine performance, but he was more so there for comic relief half of the time. And as far as Laura Linney as Hanks’ on-screen wife, she really doesn’t get much to do, but at the same time she is the only character who gets to convey emotion, which Linney does a fine job with.
I admit I was disappointed with the result of this film (admittedly never really following the real story closely). Had this been a more linear narrative with not as many flashbacks, and more emotion, and intensity, I feel like I would have liked it much more. The performances are fine, and it does have some very strong and engaging scenes and themes, and it is a film worth seeing, but one they could have done more with.