By James Connors.
There’s no doubt that Clint Eastwood’s late life directing career is unpredictable, with ‘Gran Torino’ and ‘American Sniper’ hitting both ends of the quality spectrum within just a few years of each other. ‘Sully’ feels like it fits somewhere in between the two, missing the character insight of Torino, and thankfully the black and white portrayal of what should have been a fascinating look into the mind of Chris Kyle in Sniper. ‘Sully’ simply exists, telling a story that took place over a matter of minutes and attempting to drag it out to a feature length movie.
Hanks is, of course, solid in the role but you have to question his choice in taking another real life hero story, told from a single viewpoint, so soon after ‘Captain Philips’. There’s no real challenge for him here, and it’s entirely down to the quality of the script which ranges from plodding, to outright embarrassing – in particular the scene in a bar where he finds out there’s a drink named after him. There’s barely a conversation that doesn’t feel stilted, or simply existing to buy time.
Attempts to make the passengers more than numbers are weak, where the aftermath of surviving the incident could have made for compelling drama. Instead, we’re shown how 3 people nearly missed a flight for unimportant reasons, and a man playing jovially with a baby prior to takeoff. Once the crash is over, they’re barely an aside in the story Eastwood wants to tell.
Jumping around the timeline in order to avoid the lack of any real progression, we’re never given any real time to take in how even the lead characters actually feel after such a life changing incident – which is understandable given the demeanour of Sully, which appears to be realistically based on the real life captain. Instead, fabricated drama is thrown in, and the film essentially feels padded out to get to its meagre runtime. It’s hollow and soulless, which seems genuinely impressive feat given the story its based on.
There’s no doubt that the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ is a fascinating and exciting tale, and that the rightful actions of Capt. Sullenberger saved the lives of many, but sadly the way this was produced does not translate to interesting filmmaking. Once again Clint Eastwood has taken a true life story, and removed any aspect of intrigue in order to weave his own ideas in, which is a massive shame.
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