‘Sully’ Soars, Needs Help with the Landing

Clint Eastwood puts ‘Sully’ on a pedestal of patriotic propaganda, which somewhat overshadows the true emotional boundaries being tested on-screen.

‘Sully’ has its ups and downs, but overall stands as a strong character study.

Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

All he had was 208 seconds; 155 passengers, 208 seconds. And he still managed to save each and every one of them.

Everyone has heard of 2009’s Miracle on the Hudson. It’s a shockingly-honest portrayal of courage, integrity, and selflessness in the face of impending doom. Much is to say of the passengers on the flight, the stewardesses and even First Officer Jeffrey Skiles. Nevertheless, one must give credit where credit’s due, and that’s where Sully comes in.

Sully, the newest project from critically acclaimed actor-gone-director Clint Eastwood, sheds light on that fateful New York morning, yet does so by tiptoeing around it. How so? We start in the aftermath, where the notoriety bubbles up and Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) is the talk of every news platform. However, nothing compares to those lonely Manhattan nights, where we find Captain Sully on the edge of his hotel room bed, replaying the possible (and life-threatening) scenarios in his head.

While consistent flashbacks to the cockpit provoke such trains of thought, Sully is also put on the forefront of an interrogation with First Officer Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) by National Transportation Safety Board, suggesting that the aircraft’s left engine was somewhat in-tact. Hence, Sully deals with this chronic tug of war for the protagonist, this never-ending struggle between heroism and human error.

The only miniscule issue with Sully , though, isn’t so much about the film’s gripping story structure. Rather, it’s this underlying sense of pressure that takes over the film’s 96-minute running time. In other words, this biographical drama has so much going for it that it almost feels to follow a sense of formula. Most films do, of course, but most of the excitement of watching a film is attempting to crack down how a filmmaker disguises that very formula within the story. As far as  Sully goes, the only masking factor taking place is by the genuine performances of both Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart. And it’s enough to make even 96 minutes feel close to the edge of embellishment.

Sully was structured well-enough that it kept my interest the whole time, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again,” said Jenna Stuiso, 20-year-old Nutley native and film fanatic. “Overall, it’s just a decent movie.”

Decent, it is. Sully is not Clint Eastwood’s most enduring piece of visual art, to date. Yet, it represents the endurance of a certain few, and it gives the Miracle on the Hudson the proper amount of spotlight. And even though the landing might not be where we wished entirely, Captain Sullenberger’s biopic got us where we needed to be.

For better or for worse, it stuck the landing. Sully is now playing in movie theaters worldwide. Some local venues include AMC Clifton Commons, AMC Essex Greens in West Orange and even Bow Tie Bellevue Cinemas in the heart of Upper Montclair! For a list of even more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com today.

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