Seeing a movie which features engine failure and the emergency water landing of a commercial passenger jet is admittedly not the smartest thing I have ever done the night before flying out to Las Vegas from New York on vacation, and I may regret it tomorrow; but one thing you will not regret is going to see Sully, starring Tom Hanks (as Chelsley “Sully” Sullenberger) and Aaron Eckhart (as co-pilot Jeff Skiles). Say what one will about crazy ass, empty chair-talking-to, closeted racist, republican zealot Clint Eastwood, but the man is a cinematic legend who knows how to direct the heck out a movie. My take on Clint is that the dude has seen a lot. He’s a senior citizen who’s paid his dues and he can say and do whatever he wants.
Tom Hanks is back, doing what he does best; embodying a character. Tom has had a long and prestigious career playing fictional and real life characters well, but I believe Sully may be one of the best publicly “known” characters he has portrayed, if not one of the most beloved. We know what Sully looks like and how he speaks. All of Sully is still fresh in our minds. Hanks does a great job of capturing Sully’s demeanor – his humility, his grace and his strength. You will fall in love with Sully all over again. And if you didn’t adore him the first time around, you will now.
It makes me question myself and examine my thoughts and feelings more deeply every time a man captures the essence of a real life character without necessarily looking like the man he is portraying, where a woman is under so much pressure to have the physical characteristics of the woman she is portraying. If she does not pass “the resemblance test,” one can hardly get past the criticism of her looks to tell whether her acting is any good. I suppose it comes from some sort of systemic brainwashing and is something about myself I will have to work on, but Hanks doesn’t look like Sully here. He merely lost a bit of weight and dyed his hair silver so that he resembled him, and that was good enough for me. I didn’t mind a bit.
It feels as though this water landing happened just yesterday to those of us who witnessed it or learned about it that day on the news, so what can be told of the story that we do not already know? This movie offers a fresh take by capturing the events of January 15, 2009 from multiple perspectives: the perspective of the plane – US Airways flight 1549 – itself (brilliantly); the flight crew and passengers; the rescue workers; the media; witnesses to the low flying plane over the Hudson River and the landing; the greater public who found out about it later on the news; the National Transportation Safety Board; and eventually, Sully and Jeff. We are also allowed an in-depth look at the investigation that followed the incident.
The supporting cast was very strong, and it was refreshing to see a movie filled with characters played by veteran actors who we don’t get an opportunity to see working together often. It was nice to see a movie about experienced, adult professionals acting like adults, doing adult things and having adult reactions. It was also interesting to see how something so big happening to someone who is so humble can be extremely challenging, and not the great ride one would think it might have been.
Something about Sully has the feel of an old fashioned disaster movie such as The Towering Inferno (1974) or the Poseidon Adventure (1972), in a good way. I think that like those films, Sully is a perfect film to watch in a theater. I imagine that the experience of it in a theater is so much more impactful than it would be on a television at home – although today’s televisions are much larger and vivid than they were back then. Sully was suspenseful, even though you know how it ends and nobody dies. And it is still interesting material because it is not simply a retelling of a story we already know.
This movie is playing with Dolby sound and in 3D. I saw it in 2D, and skipped the added, extra loud sound, and the movie was able to stand on its own without all the bells and whistles. I was curious about what the flight scenes would look like in 3D as I was watching them, but I wasn’t paying $21 for a ticket to find out. The version I saw was just fine in the format in which it was shown.
Sully earned 8 bloops out of 10. It’s a great movie you shouldn’t miss. It is a movie which was made to been seen in the theatre so you can feel the impact of the water and experience the suspense and the landing on the big screen. I think you will agree it’s worth it.