FIRST LOOK: Hanks, Eastwood Score Knock Out with "Sully"

Updated 2 years ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
FIRST LOOK: Hanks,  Eastwood Score Knock Out with "Sully"
(c) Warner Bros.

When a flock of birds knock out a jetliner's engines, Chesley Sullenberger, a veteran pilot of 42 years, made a near snap decision to land the plane in the below zero water's of the Hudson River. Not one of the 155 souls on board perished courtesy of the "Miracle on the Hudson," in which the skill and timing of  the plane's crew, first responders and those on board tour vessels came together and prevent serious injury.

However, once "Sully's" heroism rose in the water an inquiry opened too --- Could the pilot and co-pilot have made it to a runway? 

Tom Hanks, who portrayed Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks" and James Donovan in "Bridge of Spies," also starred as "Captain Phillips," a true story of  Somali pirates hijacking a cargo ship. Similar to investigators,  simulations and media placing Sullenberger  under scrutiny , Phillips had his reputation placed under a microscope.

By contrast Sullenberger had a spotless resume. His passengers and strangers  thank and hug him as  'hero,' even as simulations suggest he could have made it to an airport.

Director Clint ("American Sniper") Eastwood with  screenwriter Todd Komarnicki made a wise decision to create suspense before showing footage of the landing. By twisting time, officials blaming  the pilot's judgment sew deep thrills usurping  a known outcome. For that reason, the film opens with the pilot awakening the next day in a hotel from a nightmare of what could have happened.

Hanks lends strong, stoic demeanor transforming the extraordinary circumstances into just routine. For instance, after ensuring all passengers have exited the cabin, he grabs the log and documents from the cockpit. You would think he undertook the decision making process on a daily basis.

The depth of his mental re-plays of the event outwardly maintain a spent attention span. He does not raise his voice, criticize or celebrate inwardly casting most fault demons overboard. His procedural professionalism shift his emotions into 'don't take it personally' gear as National Transportation Safety Board hearings commence.

Only the ears of his co-pilot (Aaron Eckhart) and his wife (Laura Linney) via phone hear self-doubting pressures rising, ultimately telling her, "Maybe, I blew it," acknowledging that "it didn't turn out right for the insurers or the airline."

We've become cynical from repeatedly moderated attitudes dissecting conduct --- be it in a court of law, the field of battle, or political arena. Bureaucrats make heavenly 'villains' here as the former Man with No Name (Eastwood) accents new intensity from each wiggle and squirm .

FIRST LOOK: Hanks,  Eastwood Score Knock Out with "Sully"

Cool headedness demonstrated before, during and after the crash allow viewers to experience a hint of mortal (not super)  hero demands, including  short time frames between hero and fool. Apply the Hudson Miracle's  escalated doubts into the mindset of less clear cut bright lines, such as the sniper who killed many in the name of patriotic duty or seemingly instantaneous  decisions by law enforcement to pause or pull the trigger.

Moviegoers exiting "Sully" locally provided a unanimous  'thumbs up,' rejuvenated by the inspirational happy ending, which comes on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

"You don't know how you'd react until experiencing the situation," said one.

 And, Eastwood continues his sly game of cat and mouse sorting through the cinematic equivalent of a mathematical "pi," perhaps as retribution for the constant and casual "make my day" utterances from days and nights of characters such as  "Dirty Harry's" seemingly conscienceless turning off doers of diabolical deeds.



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