I went in not expecting much. How much, after all, can they show about a pilot landing a plane? I knew what the main event was, and its resolution, so I didn’t think there was really much more to see. In that respect I was not disappointed.
Released September 8, 2016, Sully stars Tom Hanks as Captain Sully, the same pilot who landed an airliner in the Hudson River saving all passengers on board in 2009. This movie review will examine the good, the bad, and the bland. There are no spoilers, because you should already know what happens, even if you haven’t watched the trailer.
The acting was good, but that’s a given considering the names attached. Cinematography was also really well done. The action shots of the airplane landing, though repeated multiple times, were always interesting to watch. Clint Eastwood has proven himself as a director who understands the visual aspect of film-making.
The most tense scene actually didn’t involve Tom Hanks at all, but rather one of the air traffic controllers at the tower. In the lengthy scene we get to see the guys who never really figure into these kinds of films, but are just as important and heroic as those in the forefront, so kudos to whoever decided to include that scene.
There’s just no substance to the plot of this movie. It’s a guy who lands a plane in the water. Whoop-de-doo Basil, what does it all mean?
The only tension in the film is the National Transportation Safety Board’s fictional attack on Sully’s character. What this movie proves is that if you want to make a movie based on real events and have to invent conflict, then the movie probably shouldn’t have been made.
Conflict is the driving force behind any good story, and good movies have conflict that is meaningful and relevant to the characters. The conflict with the NTSB felt artificial and forced. Who the hell is really gonna bully an old guy who saved the lives of one hundred and fifty-five people? There’s also some other minor thing about how if Sully gets fired than they’ll lose the farm! But it’s difficult to believe a national hero would have trouble finding work after such a widely broadcasted event. A book deal at the very least would show up on the New York Times bestseller list.
Compare Sully to Captain Phillips. They are quite similar in plot: a man with an otherwise normal job is put into extraordinary circumstances, and ends up pulling through in the end. There is, however, one gigantic difference between the two films, and that is the latter’s ability to maintain conflict.
The NTSB is a shallow antagonist, while Captain Phillips had the benefit of not one, but a trio of “bad guys” with interesting personalities. There was always something going on, whether it was the bad guys being bad or the bad guys being good, and by the end it’s actually kind of sad when we see their brains getting blown out of their heads. Meanwhile, Sully is struggling with faux PTSD that disappears in the final quarter of the film, a shaky financial situation that isn’t shaky at all, and an NTSB board with sticks shoved up their asses. In other words, there’s a whole lot of nothing, or fake somethings, going on in Sully, and that’s boring. Tom Hanks basically remains the same humble and competent character that he is from beginning to end, so what was the point? Where was the intrigue? No character development means no shits given, and a weak plot certainly didn’t help matters at all.
Skip this one. I suspect the only reason it has such high reviews is because most influential movie critics work for publications in New York, and the film certainly does shove the “New York Numba One!” vibe down your throat.
Patriotism shouldn’t measure a film’s integrity nor its entertainment value, and Sully fails in those categories that matter to cinema as an art form, as well as just being a good time. As an alternative to satisfy your craving for airliner related movies, I would like to recommend the famous classic, Airplane.
This has been a gamobo review. Thanks for reading, and don’t call me Shirley!