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"Everything is unprecedented until it happens for the first time."
Sully (Tom Hanks)
On January 15, 2009, a decidedly un-cinematic hero, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger of US Airways, landed 155 souls into the Hudson River, safely, as he struggled with a plane crippled by birds in both engines. As we all know, the passengers and crew survived, so what does director Clint Eastwood bring to the big screen that could engage an audience knowing the blessed outcome?
First, he brings Tom Hanks, not unknown to portray low-key heroes (see Bridge of Spies and Captain Phillips most recently), whose understated courage seems accurately to reflect the Sully we have come to know and see displayed with the credits. Second, Eastwood crafts one of the most believable crash and rescue scenes I have ever encountered.
As in the authentic Hanks interpretation of the quiet Sully, the disaster is compelling and understated. No swelling or morbid music takes away from the terror. Because the simulations at the National Transportation Safety Board hearings were necessary to prove fault, the contrast between the NTSB creations and Eastwood's rendition of the real incident is starkly evocative of the film's attempt to get it all right.
Even the NTSB's grilling Sully at the hearings, while it unsettlingly tracks his alleged errors in the "Miracle on the Hudson," has a low-profile approach. It confirms Eastwood's and writer Todd Komarnicki's affirmation that everyone in the film is doing his and her job, from pilots, investigators, and rescuers to director and writer.
Even Sully's wife, Lorraine (Laura Linney), in the ever-annoying wife-in-waiting-role, is stronger and more balanced than the stock character. Although the passengers are not always first-rate actors, they do seem sincere. However, it is Hanks's film with his stolid, no frills acting, followed by a supportive Aaron Eckhart as his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles.
But then, that powerful under-acting is emblematic of the director himself, a lean craftsman who wastes no time in production and has no time for puffery. Although not Unforgiven, Sully is one of Eastwood's best and one of the best films of the year.
After seeing this film, you may have a heightened respect even for flight attendants, who evidence a more sincere bravery than summer blockbuster heroes could ever do as that crew directs the passengers: "Brace. Brace. Brace. Head down, stay down!" If you see Sully in IMAX, your head will be up in the clouds and your heart too.
If there's one thing you can count on Clint Eastwood doing well, it's
directing an emotionally heartfelt story. Sully continues Eastwood's
success by giving us probably the most human drama of 2016.
"The miracle on the Hudson" is the subject of this Eastwood drama, starring Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, and Laura Linney. There will be plenty of obstacles with any film based on a true story, but with a film based on an event that lasted a mere 208 seconds, it's extra difficult. But Eastwood manages to pull a great story out of these unbelievable events that comes in just under 2 hours. Of course, the flight itself isn't the only hurdle that captain Sully went through, as he dealt with reporters, investigators, and the National Transportation Safety Board determined to diminish his heroic efforts.
Who could possibly be better to play Captain Sully than the great Tom Hanks. Having wonderfully played another "controversial" captain back in 2013 as Captain Phillips, there was no doubt he could pull off a somewhat similar role. Boy does Hanks deliver. He always effortlessly pulls out the big speeches and powerful dialogue well, but I often find his more subtle acting to be more impressive. It's the moments when Sully is reacting to the big moments with only his facial expressions and body languages that give me goosebumps. Not many actors are able to bring me to the verge of tears just by a facial expression, but Hanks is one of them.
Eastwood and his editors also deserve tons of credit for their work here. Much like Hanks' subtle acting, I love when Eastwood holds back the bombastic music (that can sometimes take you out of a story like this) and lets the audience choose how to feel by watching gorgeous cinematography and poignant acting and directing. This may be Eastwood's best directorial work since Million Dollar Baby. He understood exactly the moments to use and not music in order to pull the emotion out of his audience.
Most of all, this film is a great display of the power of the human spirit. Everything about this film is grounded with humanity. No one seems fake. So often Hollywood is flooded with over-the-top filmmaking that can easily dilute the power of the film's message. Sully knows exactly what it's going for, and it does it to near perfection.
+Eastwood back at the top
+Hanks subtle acting
+Power of human spirit
Greetings again from the darkness. Society has a tendency to go to
extremes hero worship for those who probably don't deserve it and
character assassination for those who have the gall to be less than
perfect. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger has experienced both. On January
15, 2009, Sully made the decision to land the crippled aircraft of US
Airways flight 1549 right into a river
an event immediately labeled
"Miracle on the Hudson".
Surprisingly, this is the first film collaboration for Tom Hanks and director Clint Eastwood. Both have cinematic experience with true life stories and real people: Hanks most recently in Captain Phillips and Bridge of Spies; and Clint with American Sniper and J. Edgar. This one is the perfect fit as Hanks takes on a good man who takes pride in doing his job, and Clint brings to life a story that showcases the best of human nature.
Tom Komanicki adapted the screenplay from the book "Highest Duty", co-written by Sully and Jeffrey Zaslow. Much of the attention is given to the doubts and uncertainty Sully experienced during the NTSB review. The scrutiny of his work by the committee (played here by the ultra-serious Mike O'Malley, Anna Gunn, Jamey Sheridan) left his career and reputation dangling, inspiring nightmares that are much worse than yours and mine.
Certainly we are in awe of what Sully pulled off that morning, but as movie goers, we are anxious to see the plane crash/splash/landing. Clint comes through in breath-taking fashion. While it lacks the hysterics and drama of the upside-down plane in Flight, this re-creation is so realistic that we nearly obey the flight attendants repeated instructions of "Heads down. Stay down". Even the cockpit chatter, passenger evacuation, and first responder's (many of whom are real life folks, not actors) activities are played in matter-of-fact manner more people just doing their job. We shiver knowing the icy Hudson River water is 36 degrees, and we feel Sully's anxiety as he desperately tries to get a final count a count that he prays will hit 155.
Aaron Eckhart plays co-pilot Jeff Skiles and has a couple of memorable scenes, and Laura Linney embraces the thankless role of telephone wife of Sully during the aftermath and hearings. We get a glimpse of Sully's background with flashbacks to his flight lessons at a Denison Texas private airfield, as well as a portion of his military service. Hanks is the perfect choice for a role that would have suited James Stewart just fine if it were the 1940's.
The conflict here comes from the NTSB inquiry. Backed by computer simulators that show the plane could have coasted back to LaGuardia, we get the distinct feeling that the committee's goal is finding human error naming a scapegoat (other than Canadian geese) for their "lost" plane. It's Sully who reminds us that the committee is simply doing their job just as he was, Skiles was, the Flight Attendants were, and the first responders were.
This is technically expert filmmaking. We know the ending, but are glued to the screen. Frequent Eastwood collaborator Tom Stern handles the cinematography, and like the acting and story-telling, the camera work avoids any excess or over-dramatization. The film provides one of the best examples ever of the duality of hero worship and intense scrutiny, and how a person can be a hero by simply doing their job. The closing credits show clips of the flight's reunion and every survivor would agree that the best among us allowed a continuation of life something that could have gone to the other extreme.
I am one of the lucky few who had the opportunity to get an advance
premier screening for Sully at AMC IMAX Somerville, Boston ten days
prior to the release.
This is easily the best movie of 2016. I have been following the Jan 15 controlled ditching incident of US Airways Flight 1549 case for a while. Everything about this case was covered on TV and the hearings are uploaded on YouTube. I have watched nearly 5 hours of the footage on YouTube and I was skeptical before the film whether if it offers us anything new.
I was mind-blown; the movie is truly an untold story. The drama, action and intensity is all along. It left me and many audience in tears. It feels realistic in the IMAX edition with great sound effects surrounding you. The screenplay of this film is unique, Client Eastwood is an outstanding director has outdone himself with this gripping tale.
Tom hanks has been the heart of the film. The acting was top notch. I am sure his meetings with Chesley SUllenberger must have contributed something in the acting department. Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles also did a great job with his subtle humor and great screen presence. He makes you wanting more of the character.
Coming back to the facts, Client Eastwood has left what we all know because of the footages shown in YouTube and the hearings.
Overall, great performances, superb screenplay, neat editing and fabulous visual and audio effects make this film easily the best in 2016.
Above all, this one has a heart!
What makes Sully exceptional is that Clint Eastwood lets the story tell
Specifically real with the water landing itself. Nothing is really taken out of content in the way Hollywood thinks and usually takes it.
The event was dramatic enough without anything needed to be added to enhance that.
Tom Hanks is a fine actor. Not the greatest performance, but it was cool that Hanks and Eastwood did a movie together.
Sully gives us an in depth look at the miracle of the Hudson. Though the title does state that the we focus on Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger who did an amazing water landing on the Hudson in January of 2009, and got his 15 mins because of it, Eastwood shows us that even one man can see things in many different ways, as Eastwood goes through all those angles.
I love Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles, the co pilot who supported greatly the pilots decision. He was a great supporting actor for Tom Hanks.
In the end this movie is about heroes, not just Sully but everyone involved in the US Airways Flight 1549 water landing. From the well trained flight attendances to the rescue police on the water fairy. Its about the 155 passengers and the their accounts of what happen. It's about how sometimes we forget how to treat a hero, but true heroes will always shine though, and Eastwood tells the story as real as possible knowing that he has an incredible story here.
First, the film itself:
* technically perfect. What Clint Eastwood shares with Ron Howard is that they are both actors-turned-directors who consistently make technically perfect films. (Howard, on the other hand, was never voted "sexiest man alive" in his acting career. Just a trivia point...)
* what they also share is a penchant for taking larger-than-life people and literally making them much-larger-than-life on the big screen. After this, you will feel like you have known Sully as long as his family.
* in the presence of such directorial talent, it is easy to overlook the casting choices. In this case, I suggest that Hanks may not get the credit he is due. This may be the best performance of his career. He sets a deer-in-the-headlights tone early; and by mid-movie, the viewer starts to feel as paranoid as his character. Amazing performance.
* recommended for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that it is one of the best films of the year.
And now the esoteric part of the review:
* have a friend, a university professor, who once explained to me, at some length, that the #1 most "unnatural" event in life is an MRI scan. You are placed immobile in a life-size cassette and then inserted into an appliance that bombards you with EM waves while deafening you with noise unlike you have ever heard before. Like a baby, you are completely dependent on outside help, and, if the machine failed, it is far from certain you could escape on your own. Yet this is a part of our culture, and the common wisdom is we should be grateful the tech exists in the first place.
* the second most un-natural event in our culture? Air travel, he said. (You can do the comparisons on your own.)
* the kicker is that my friend ended his dissertation by mentioning there are "standing" MRIs which do the same job and are more comfortable but expensive, so many hospitals and clinics avoid them. We are, after all, a society that is all about money.
* watching the people leave the plane in the film I remembered my friend's strong views. A century ago, air travel was a very different experience. If you think about it, as is the case with the MRI, it is really all about the money.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was an aviation event the likes of which few, if any, in the world
could ever recall happening. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight
1549, bound from New York's LaGuardia International Airport to
Charlotte, North Carolina, was hit by a large flock of birds just
thirty seconds after takeoff. The bird strike disabled and damaged both
of the jet's engines; and though it managed to keep flight for another
three minutes, there was no way it could return to LaGuardia, or make
any attempts at an emergency landing at either JFK, Newark, or nearby
Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. The flight's captain, Chesley "Sully"
Sullenberger, made the split-second decision to ditch the aircraft in
the Hudson River, rather than risk flying into any buildings.
Incredibly, the aircraft, though damaged by the bird strikes and the
water landing, stayed afloat long enough for rescue personnel to save
the lives of all 155 people on that flight, an operation that took only
twenty-four minutes in all. The incident has been into the highly
engaging cinematic docudrama SULLY.
Based on the book "Highest Duty" by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow, the film, as directed by Clint Eastwood (who some time back traded his acting career for one focused solely on direction, though he had been doing both on and off since 1971's PLAY MISTY FOR ME), focuses in on the pressures that Sullenberger, excellently played by Tom Hanks (as always), underwent in the months following the crash. The media attention was enormous, but it was also highly scrutinizing as well. And in those months, Sullenberger and his co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) went before a seemingly endless battery of hearings conducted by both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transpiration Safety Board as to whether Sullenberger's judgment on that day was sound, given that flight simulations supposedly had shown that the plane could have accomplished either one of the four scenarios (return to LaGuardia; landing at JFK; Newark; or Teterboro) while achieving the same result that Hanks and Eckhart had achieved. But in the testimony the two men give, Hanks argues that the basic human element was totally left out of those scenarios. From the moment the bird strikes happened until US Airways 1549 ditched into the Hudson River, there were only 208 seconds (three minutes and twenty-eight seconds); and in that time, trying to fly the disabled craft onto a dry runway was totally unrealistic and could have resulted in the deaths of all onboard and even more on the ground.
Since restaging the actual saga of Flight 1549 would be a matter of getting all the details right, helped out by Sullenberger's own book and his four decades worth of flight experience, it was really up to Eastwood's direction, and Hanks' ability to underplay, to get into the mindset of "Sully" as he dealt with all the media and government attention that he, his wife (Laura Linney), and Eckhart went through in those months following what the media had deemed the "Miracle On The Hudson." Hanks deftly shows the struggles that Sullenberger faced, via flashbacks to that cold wintry day in the skies over the Big Apple, with respect to what he could have done differently (or what both the media and the government investigators think he could have done differently). But at no time during the actual FAA/NTSB hearings did Sully ever lose his cool and his composure. He merely pointed out that the human element needed to be taken into consideration, not just what some alternate computer simulation said could have been done, to facilitate the saving of everyone on Flight 1549; and the playback of the flight voice recorders clears up any questions as to the judgment and veracity behind Sully's decisions.
That this saga, which, like 1995's APOLLO 13 (which also starred Hanks) and 2015's THE 33, had a hugely successful outcome, should have been made into a movie probably shouldn't surprise anyone. But just as importantly, and also just like those films, SULLY, thanks to Hanks' usual great Everyman portrayal of Sullenberger, the kind of heroism on display is that of common people, including Hanks, his crew, his wife, the passengers, and the rescue personnel of New York City, and not just some comic-book, super-patriotic depiction of heroism that too much of Hollywood has been about in the 21st century. Nothing about the saga of US Airways Flight 1549, or the resulting Miracle On The Hudson, was cut-and-dried; it was reality, and Eastwood and Hanks should both be commended for making it that way, and successfully so.
I think Clint Eastwood is very talented director and Tom Hanks is
easily my favorite actor. He's just good in everything. That being
said, I was going to wait to rent this movie because the subject didn't
appeal to me very much. Ended up at the theater with a group of friends
who wanted to see it, so that's what we saw.
Put simply, it was just OK.
Tom Hanks is always good (in my opinion) and that was still the case. He did really well and might get awards consideration. I don't think he reached the heights of his performances in Philadelphia, Cast Away, Forrest Gump, or Saving Private Ryan or even another bio-pic, Captain Phillips. He was very good and made the movie watchable. Aaron Eckhart was also pretty good. My problem with the acting is that I don't feel those characters would be very difficult to portray, so although they did a good job, it isn't impressive per se.
I am all for creative license, but I think the choice for the antagonists in this film is borderline slander given how actual events panned out. That's all I will say about that.
The plot honestly doesn't have much going for it. We already know how the flight ends and thus lose a great deal of dramatic suspense. Eastwood tries to work around this with how he structured the story, but it just felt forced. Three separate times, I believe, we end up in a flashback of the flight in question and it does not add anything to the story. It quickly grows old.
I mean, technically, this film is impeccable. The editing, the cinematography, etc. Clint Eastwood knows how to shoot a movie. So I don't want to knock it too hard. I just feel like it is pretty forgettable.
6 stars is my standard rating for a movie that is well made, but I just didn't really care about.
- I do have to say that Aaron Eckhart's mustache is the star of the movie.
Running at a lean and spry 96min, Clint Eastwood's Sully isn't so much
a clinical bio-pic in the traditional sense, but an absorbing showcase
of a man's extraordinary professionalism in the face of danger.
On Thursday, January 15th, 2009, the world witnessed the "Miracle on the Hudson" when Captain Chesley Sullenburger (Tom Hanks) glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career.
Tom Hanks underplays Sullenburger but in so doing he brings out the multi-layered human qualities in the man. This is about a man who has 42 years of flying experience and he knows the aircraft like it is the back of his hand. Here is a man who does his job to the best of his abilities and he does it well. He will tell you he is not a hero but simply a man who is just doing his job. From a man with no time he becomes the man of all time. However, he is shaken to his very core when the doubts start to set in as the NTSB rips apart his heroic maneuver. Is Sullenburger a hero or a fraud?
The story rests on Tom Hank's abled shoulders who has built a reputation playing understated and reluctant heroes in Bridge of Spies and Captain Phillips. On first look Hank didn't seem to put on his acting hat, but after a night of rumination his character continues to stay with me. His sullenly insular and taciturn manner displays a fully functioning problem-solver's mind, calculating the probability of survival in that instance when the birds hit the plane engines. Thank goodness he trusts his instincts rather than the computer.
Hank isn't the only star in the story. At 86, Eastwood has meticulously crafted an honest story we thought we already knew into a tense drama with little bell and whistle. His unfazed skill in storytelling is assured and Sully definitely belongs to the top tier of his pantheon of good movies that include Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. In Eastwood's hands, the film flies above the usual biopic tropes and it feels like a homage to a modest man who rose to an extraordinary occasion and a salute to professionalism. It is a wonder the story doesn't carry an ounce of jingoism and it is a superb amalgam of the loud and the silence and the human elements of a near air disaster.
The final star is definitely the plane crash. For a home-theatre enthusiast, the visuals and sonics are a feast for the senses. We get to see the crash and its aftermath from every physical and emotional angle. I can't remember the last time I see a reenactment of a plane crash so visceral and real. This is the closest you will get to experience one without actually being in one.
I didn't care much for Eastwood's last directorial effort American Sniper because it carried too many skull-numbing and blatant embellishments, but with Sully he has redeemed himself. This may feel like a straight-forward story but the use of Rashomon-resque plot manipulation transcends the film above the usual biopics that you would forget after a night's sleep. I didn't forget this one today.
This is based on a true incident from a few years ago, where a veteran
pilot actually was able to land his plane in the Hudson river in NYC
and with all on board surviving. It is a terrifically detailed but slow
moving work by 86 year old living legend Clint Eastwood starring the
Jimmy Stewart/everyman of our era, in two time - should have been three
time -Oscar winner Tom Hanks as the quietly unheroic hero pilot. (You
were robbed of the statuette in 2000 for "Cast Away", Tom. Who else
could play opposite a volleyball for two hours and make it work?).
I'm reminded of Eastwood's 2003 Academy Award winning "Mystic River" in that he deliberately takes his time in adapting the book, as he does here as well. The script is a little odd, shifting back and forth between the events of the day itself and the hearing to decide whether the pilot and co-pilot were at fault for not heading to one of the nearby airports. This leads to a little awkwardness during the first third of the film, but then works out just fine. We see the big event twice - The epic landing of the jet is more than worth seeing in and of itself.
Aaron Eckhart, for once, gets to play a good guy, the co-pilot. How nice to see Delphi Harrington, a much underused actress, as the passenger in the wheelchair. She was marvelous as an intelligent, sophisticated woman in the long-gone soap opera Where the Heart Is and was also believable as a trashy Southern murderess on Guiding Light and as a trashy Southern prostitute on All My Children. Here she plays a somewhat stereotypical New York Jewish mother. As a daughter she gets Valerie Mehaffey of Desperate Housewives.
Sully shows something rarely seen in movies these days, the simple heroism of ordinary people, like the ferry boat crew members who rescue the passengers from the plane.
Be sure to stay for the credits, where you will see a reunion of many of the actual passengers and crew from the flight. And as Columbo would say, just one more thing - The last line of the movie is a hoot and got a big laugh! Highly recommended.
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