When it comes to the role of an ideal American you can really get no better casting than Tom Hanks. In this retelling of the famous 2009 plane crash on the Hudson River Hanks plays the straight-edged captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger dealing not only with the incident itself, but the aftermath of hearings over the legitimacy of his actions.
Sully is not a film to go into with expectations of high stakes or nail-biting tension (mainly as the audience knows the outcome from the very start) and for most part the team behind it is very aware of this. Nowhere is there bombastic score blaring out, or action film shaky cam, and instead director Clint Eastwood takes the initiative to make the film as its subject would have wanted; clean-cut and direct. The acting is concise and well-performed, and everything is portrayed clearly and to-the-point.
While this produces an entertaining enough picture for the sequences of the crash and the hearings, it quickly becomes apparent in other scenes that there simply wasn’t enough intriguing story to fill the film. There are numerous attempts to pad out its runtime, with side tracks into conversations between the passengers pre-accident, phone calls between Sully and his wife (Laura Linney), and 9/11 style disaster nightmares from Sully. While neither of these scenes are particularly poor they fail to add anything to the story, either in terms of plot, theme, character, or tension.
As Sully repeats throughout he was simply “doing his job”, which is in turn a rather apt review of the film itself. While not as miraculous as the events within, it doesn’t treat the story or people with any disservice.
Sully is showing at Cambridge Film Festival, and screens nationwide from December 2