Sully is nothing great, well Hanks is great, but I was entertained as Eastwood makes the most out of this truly incredible event.
What is interesting about the story of Sully is that nothing dramatic really happens in the film. Yes, the plane is successfully landed in the Hudson, everyone survives with minor injuries and it all works out in the end, but the biggest struggle beyond the crash is a guy swims a bit too far from the lifeboats. The amazing thing about this story is that everything basically goes perfectly. Eastwood is forced to put the drama into the investigation of Sully by the regulatory oversights, who claim that he didn’t have to put in the river.
The crash is told through flashback, with a couple of other Sully flashes thrown in, and it is intercut with the various meetings with the investigators. You never really buy that these guys were this hard on Sully, the dude did the impossible, but it builds up to a satisfying comeuppance for Sully in the final hearing. Yes, the hearing could have used some tighter editing, and takes a little bit of the wind out of the showcase crash sequence, but I ultimately bought into it all.
Since that is pretty much it for the plot, I guess I should just dive into the filmmaking and acting in the film. Hanks is great, per usual, and he makes the most out of the knowingly cool and calm Sully. Hanks got me welled up a couple of times even as he gives a couple of looks that say so much with so little. Hanks’ charisma seeps through the cool core of Sully and propels things along. Aaron Eckhart plays Sully’s co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, and he offers a nice little change of pace to Hanks’ stoic Sully. Eckhart and Eastwood could have made Skiles a little bit goofy for the sake of something different, or made him jealous he isn’t getting any attention, but they squeeze out an excellent partner to Sully instead. They even make it clear how important he was to this all as well, even if they couldn’t get his name on the poster.
Mike O’Malley plays the lead investigator against Sully, and he is pretty generic as a government stooge who hates life saving heroic feats. Anna Gunn is also embarrassingly generic as the “sympathetic” member of the investigative panel. How far Skyler White has fallen. That smile she throws on when she delivers the news of the 2nd engine, ugh. Laura Linney is also kind of terrible as Sully’s wife, it is a terrible, thankless role, and Linney is phoning it in. I love her when she is all in, but hate when she seems to just be coasting by.
Eastwood’s direction isn’t knocking the socks off anyone here, but he does a nice job recreating the event in a compelling and believable manner. I even like that Eastwood and his script, by Todd Komarnicki, aren’t afraid to turn into the WTF of this event and how the hell it worked out in the end so well. They could have played things super serious, but they sprinkle in a number of knowing nods to the insanity of it all and how amazing this series of events was.
Sully isn’t the best movie of the year, but it is an entertaining recreation of this incredible event. Hanks is great as the titular Sully, as Eastwood’s solid directing keeps things moving right along. The landing sequence could have been a bit more visually interesting, but I also sort of appreciate the restraint it took to just show how well everything just sort of went for something as insane as a plane landing in the Hudson.