Tom Hanks soars in Oscar vehicle ‘Sully’
As autumn arrives, Oscar hopefuls will dominate theater space, leaving room for few comedies and action movies until the winter. Starting off the season is “Sully,” the new Tom Hanks vehicle directed by acclaimed filmmaker Clint Eastwood. The story centers around the insurance dispute regarding whether or not Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger performed what was absolutely necessary without endangering the passengers’ lives on US Airways Flight 1549, where he famously landed the failing plane in the Hudson River. Bureaucrats argue that he had enough thrust and time to return to LaGuardia or land in the nearby airports of Newark or Teterboro in New Jersey, while Sully claims his intuition to immediately land in the Hudson River was correct.
My initial concern was that I was already too familiar with the plot. What caught me by surprise was how little I really knew about the event. The movie itself comments on the façade of being a hero in the eyes of the public while the insurance company aims to portray Sully as irresponsible. I found myself caught in the suspense, regardless, and my previous knowledge of the event did not impede my experience in any significant way. The narrative itself is organized, if repetitive. Eastwood shows scenes multiple times and erratically disperses two-minute flashbacks, yet all of it felt necessary to the story.
Despite co-starring Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart of “The Dark Knight,” the film is less of an ensemble piece and more of a Hanks-centric performance. At this stage in his career it’s no surprise that Hanks once again delivers a genuine and accurate portrayal this time of the man responsible for the “Miracle on the Hudson.” He emanates strength with subtlety and authority with confidence. Eckhart, co-pilot in the cockpit and in the movie, provides the occasional comic relief as well as the affirming voice of Sully’s decisions in action. Linney, however, felt out of place and unnecessary. While she was the sole voice that humanized Sully and explained his motivation to maintain his reputation, most of it felt forced and occurred over the phone — and the lack of an on-screen partner made her speaking into a dead phone noticeable.
The scenes aboard the plane are magnificent. The CGI was unnoticeable, Sully’s horrific daydreams of crashing into the civilian population are well–realized and the landing itself was well-choreographed, well-directed and well-written, true to the real event. Every element blended the audience’s concern for the passengers with the rushed response to extract them from the river via rescue boats and helicopters. This was where the extras shined. Some having heartwarming moments while others were survivors of daring rescues, they added an authentic reaction to the crash as a unit. Overall, Clint Eastwood adds another successful biopic to his resume and gives us an informative, yet fun time at the theater. The high-caliber acting blends with the realistic behind-the-scenes look, and the star of the show was the retelling of the crash rather than Hanks, resulting in a solid B+.
Meanwhile, the inaptly named “Magnificent Seven” is anything but. This poorly written remake of a remake of a superior Akira Kurosawa film does not do the original source material justice. Other than Denzel Washington’s character, the remaining six are either racist caricatures of the time or silly beyond description. All of them lack motivation to fight an army of men hired by an antagonist who is evil for the sake of being evil. This underdeveloped villain, played by Peter Sarsgaard, exudes slime but not motivation.
The film seems to blend the character silliness of “The Ridiculous 6” with the unnecessary violence of “The Hateful 8.” The best aspect of the film is unfortunately an unintentional one, where Vincent D’Onofrio’s over-the-top performance is so hysterical that I ended up laughing in every scene he was in.
The choppy editing and the sloppy story-telling summated to a D+ experience, with D’Onofrio and the enjoyable yet excessive violence serving as the only saving graces. If you see this movie, I highly recommend seeing it with friends as a “so bad it’s good” experience. All of the typical cheesy lines are somehow delivered even worse than I could have imagined. This offensive and ridiculous film should be avoided. Please go see “Sully.”