Sully

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You know that joke you got tired of hearing when you were in line to buy tickets to Titanic? A middle-aged dude in a Hawaiian shirt would say to his wife, “Hey…I already know how this ends. The boat sinks!”

Well, we have that problem here. It’s hard for director Clint Eastwood (who also provided the score) to muster much drama when we know that outcome. And unlike The Poseidon Adventure, we aren’t really introduced to any of the other characters enough to care about them. We see an old lady in a wheelchair, who wants to buy a snow globe for her granddaughter, and three blokes that want to go golfing. That’s about it. Even the co-pilot (a nice, understated performance by Aaron Eckhart) we never learn much about.

It’s strange, because one of the points the movie tries to get across is that “everyone” was a hero. The Coast Guard, co-pilot, passengers, etc. Yet we’re really just finding out about Captain Chelsey Sullenberger. Hell, the movie is even called Sully. It’s not called “Miracle on the Hudson,” or “The Hudson Heroes.”

As Sully, Tom Hanks is fine. I just kept thinking about how he was in a plane crash in Cast Away. As I write this, I’ve seen memes that show him in various disasters with the heading “Remind me never to travel with Tom Hanks.” Of course, that also references him playing Captain Phillips. Is there a hero Hanks won’t play? It’s also a problem that Hanks looks nothing like Sully (Christopher Curry, as one of the passengers, looks more like Sully).

Eastwood could pull off anybody playing Chris Kyle in American Sniper, since most of the population didn’t know what he looked like (and Bradley Cooper did look a lot like him, too). But we had all seen Sully in interviews, so it’s weird casting (although if you can cast Hanks in any part, I guess you do).

For those that don’t know the story, it was 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River, after the jet collided with birds [side note: can engineers figure out how to have some kind of screen in front of those engines to keep that from happening?]

A dangerous water landing was made and all 155 passengers survived, while standing on the wings of a plane in icy water.

I don’t think “spoiler alert” was necessary there.

When the plane landed in the Hudson, it was some needed good news. It was also a nice story for New Yorkers involving a plane. For me, this movie was a nice way of taking the disappointing Robert Zemeckis movie Flight out of my mind.

What is interesting to find out is that the National Transportation Safety Board had some things they needed to investigate. It seems Sully might not have been the hero everyone claimed, and that he could’ve made a much safer landing at a nearby airport. Now, I’m guessing Eastwood ramped up the drama in those scenes, but it was compelling enough.

Laura Linney, playing the distressed wife, is one of the top actresses working today (I’d take her over Meryl Streep). She does a bit of overacting in this. Maybe when you’re stuck having a telephone in your hand in every scene…

Couldn’t they have given us one scene of her and Sully reuniting at the end?

Since often times it felt like the movie was padded out with repetitive scenes, when there are scenes I wish were here, it’s all the more frustrating that we don’t have that little extra scene that could’ve made us care more about these characters.

You never really learn about Sully as a man, or what’s in his head (other than when it comes to the crash). All we really get to know is that he has another house that he might lose because he isn’t flying during the investigation, and he has a consulting business he’s trying to get off the ground. Hard for viewers to have sympathy on either of those things. He’s a pilot who makes good money. We’re sure he’s going to do alright no matter what the investigation decides.

Yet with all my complaints about the movie, it was compelling to watch. The recreations of the crash were interesting.

There’s a story with an air traffic controller that’s interesting.

There should definitely be an Oscar nomination for “best supporting mustaches.”

This isn’t great filmmaking, but it’s a fun time at the movies.

3 stars out of 5.

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