Sully (2016)

PG-13, 96 minutes, Drama

StarringTom HanksAaron EckhartMike O’MalleyAnna GunnLaura Linney

Back in 2009, life sucked. It still isn’t all peaches and cream, but that year was special to me as it became the first year I spent without bringing in any income. Like none. The year before I had lost my job of six years and my next employer, Mervyn’s, took a dump into the seas of murky non-existence. Great. What a time to be alive. The War on Drugs and Terrorism, a president who didn’t deliver, H1N1, Tom Hanks gets his big boat hijacked, THE KING OF POP HIMSELF DIES–all of it sucks. It made a plane taking a bath in the questionable waters of New York seem trivial.

But that’s how we got Sully. Tom Hanks plays Cap’n Sully (because the man is slowly becoming a personification of modern history on film). Sully is the pilot who managed to make a water landing of a passenger jet on the Hudson River without losing a single life–IN WINTER. This movie explores the event via testimonies and flashbacks as the aftermath of the incident begins to eat away at Sully’s reputation.

Sully 2
Funny, this was exactly how I looked in 2009, too.

Considering that this movie is both short and not action-based, it really does have some intense moments. I mean, it is about a plane crash, but they present it in pieces and from different perspectives, so the overall feeling of emergency is visited and revisited. The trauma Captain Phil–erm, Sullenberger faces makes the viewer question which crash is the real one, so there’s an added layer of thrilling suspense to top it off.

Something I feel required to point out is that this film is largely centered around dialogue and drama. It’s almost exactly the same movie as Thirteen Days, which I panned so thoroughly. The story, of course, is different, but the concept of everyone just sitting around gabbing and debating with spits of action make both Days and Sully close cousins. Except Sully is good. Likely this has to do with my personal thoughts on Hanks being the greatest actor there is, but perhaps it could also relate to an incident I actually know. That’s probably why older people like Days and who knows–maybe a child born in 2025 won’t give two turds about Sully when they’re older. It’s a bit sobering.

Sully 3
Bathing a plane usually involves the entire community. Planes are big animals after all.

It wasn’t all glitter and rainbows for me though as I did have a bit of an issue with the existence of the film even being made. Sully, while well presented, really does feel like a giant ego stroke for the real-life man. Don’t get me wrong: it was impressive. Even knowing how to start a plane engine is impressive to me, so landing one on WATER and not killing anyone gets a round of Charles Foster Kane applause from me. If something like this had happened to me, you know I would tell the world, too. But being an outsider looking in, gloating about it doesn’t exactly feel heroic to me.

This movie was based on Sullenberger’s book about the incident, so that tells me it’s completely from his prospective. Then there’s the sequence at the end where the man himself walks on camera to applause with an air about him as though he’s silently saying, “You all owe me.” It spoiled it for me and I’m not sure how I would react if I met the man in person. Would I tell him to get lost or would I let him defend himself even though the possibility him gloating further would continue to spoil my opinion of him? ARGH!

It is a good movie and it was an impressive feat of skill and luck, so please don’t completely discount this movie. It’s a quick ride back several years that will likely give you the full details of a story you probably forgot about once the initial sensationalism of it all wore off.

Rating: Watch it once.

Watch: Tom Hanks, duh.
Don’t watch: The credit sequence. Seriously, folks.


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