A review of Clint Eastwood’s latest directing efforts
“Sully” is Clint Eastwood’s latest film based on the true story of US Airways Flight 1549 crash landing on the Hudson River in January 2009. The film centers around Captain Chesley, “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks, who was flying the plane when the incident occurred.
After the crash, the incident is investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. They believe the crash is due to pilot error based on computer simulations that show the plane could have made it back safely to the airport and landed. Sullenberger begins to doubt himself as the investigation progresses, struggling to reconcile his memories of the event with the facts presented by the Safety Board and questioning his abilities as a pilot. He trusted his instincts, and if they prove to be wrong he will have to retire early without a pension, meaning he will likely lose his house.
From a technical standpoint, the film was excellent. The editing felt natural and individual scenes were paced well. However, the film as a whole tended to drag in some areas. The crash landing is shown several times from different perspectives, and while they each reveal new details, it felt repetitive.
The movie felt much longer than its run time of 1 hour and 36 minutes. The cinematography was classic Eastwood — restrained and simple, yet effective. The camera observes the action objectively without a lot of movement, making the audience feel like an outside observer instead of being intimately involved with the scene. We see the action from the perspective of the safety board, carefully scrutinizing every detail.
While this made the film feel somewhat distanced and detached, the lack of flashy camera work gave the actors a lot of room to shine. Tom Hanks gave an especially good performance, reminding us through all the facts and numbers that there was a human being piloting that airplane. This tension between our desire to connect with the characters and the need to observe the details of the crash perfectly represents the question this film is asking: Can the truth only be found in objective facts, or is it important to consider the human element and trust our instincts at times?
Clint Eastwood is mostly known for acting in westerns and playing the tough guy, but in the last couple decades he has grown to be an excellent director. Two of his movies have even won Best Picture at the Academy Awards (“Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”). His films have a great sense of maturity because they cover serious topics and ask big questions. “Sully” is no exception.
This film is especially relevant in today’s technology-driven society, reminding us that even though we cannot always meet the impossibly perfect standards of a computer, there is still something valuable in the human spirit that can never be replaced with an algorithm.