Film review: Sully

sully-poster-1Tom Hanks is back at it again, staring as an all-American hero. Based on the true events of Flight 1549, when a plane made an emergency landing on the Hudson River after both engines fail mid-air. Sully immediately captures the audience in the aftermath of these events: the media circus, the airlines’ investigation and the court hearings. The film takes a calculated approach to a story of heroes and humanity.

The film takes a very unusual approach to the structure, in an attempt to create a unique perspective on the story. Often jumping around between past and present, giving a muddled feeling. These jumps in time create a lack of intensity throughout the entire movie. There was no stressful “are we going to make it” moment, there was nothing to really convince me that anything truly mattered. It felt more like things were just kind of happening, no one was particularly happy about it, but whatever. Which ultimately led to a bland experience, instead of what could have been a fantastic and thrilling story to tell.

The performances by Tom Hanks as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles were good but not Oscar-worthy. Hanks gave a decent performance that was passable for his role. It was calculated and always ready to spark inspiration. Eckhart was the sidekick, Sully’s support and was ready with a witty comeback in nearly every situation.

The movie added in the occasional call home to give us a look into Sully’s personal life. His wife was no more than a cameo by Laura Linney. Her character had no arc or purpose beyond being his concerned wife on the phone. These scenes did help to add emotion but it wasn’t enough to create an attachment to the characters.

In the film the character of Sully repeatedly said, “we were just trying to do our job.” However, the film makes villains of characters who were doing just that, their job. Mike O’Malley plays Charles Porter, the evil investigator who is asking the tough questions. Porter is given facts about the case and is hired by the airline to conduct an investigation. He questions Sully about why he landed on the Hudson, risking 155 lives, when the simulations and calculations suggested he could have made it back to the airport.

The film ends abruptly. The movie’s villains have a complete change in character and motivation, literally like someone flicked a switch. The conflict had no real resolution, epiphany or lead up.

Overall Sully was an interesting story to be told and had aspects that were enjoyable. Nevertheless, it could have been so much better than a soon-to-be-forgotten September release. It was the kind of movie you watch once and then never really think of again.