So, it’s almost the weekend again! That means you’ll finally have more time on your hands to go to the cinema and catch up on the new releases. Today’s film review is Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016, USA).
The film’s based on a true story about a pilot called Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks, who manages to save 155 passengers aboard the US Airlines flight 1549 from a potential plane crash. As a sudden flock of birds fly into the plane, both engines are found damaged and in complete ruin. In the course of about 35 seconds, the hero decides to land the plane on the cold Hudson river, thinking it would be too risky to try and return to one of the airports before crashing. Sully takes place amidst the noise of the post-flight landing when all the passengers have already been saved.
The Evil Robotic Corporation
I really admire how the film doesn’t follow the typical heroic plot about a man who manages to magically save everyone. It’s a film that lets you question what it actually means to be a hero and what humanity is. The antagonist of the film happens to be the big corporation: NTSB (National Transportation Security Board) that is trying throughout the film to convince Sully that his “heroic” landing in the freezing Hudson river was uncalled for. The corporation claims that he could’ve safely landed it in one of the near airports. They backup their case and argument with the use of computers and sims (life simulation game), adding all the more to their robotic and inhumane nature.
The human in Sully
Tom Hanks’ character, however, is perfectly humanised in the film. The film’s hero even starts to doubt himself amidst all the talks, enhancing our compassion towards him. His human nature is also shown in how he deals with signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after the traumatic experience of the landing. The film constantly gives us non-linear, imaginative shots of Sully’s plane crashing into buildings, paralleling the 9/11 crash. You can conspicuously tell that they’re haunting Sully’s dreams, or rather nightmares, and that our protagonist finds himself restless. The trauma the character goes through will definitely manage to touch the audiences’ hearts. We also get an insight into who Sully is with a flashback to the beginning of his career as a pilot. Eastwood’s use of CGI (Computer Generated Image) to express Sully’s trauma and his non-linear additions to the storyline really do give the film and Sully as a character a lot more depth.
His relationship with his co-pilot Jeff, played by Aaron Eckhart, warms our hearts. The two who’ve gone through the same trauma happen to share a lot of chemistry. They’re both grounded and made ‘everyday-men’ by forgetting about their supposedly ‘heroic’ stature. Jeff even exchanges mundane comments about food and his love for steak with Sully.
Those who survived
I also found it great how Clint Eastwood makes it specific to give life to the passengers. They’re not only a number; they’re all human lives which Sully has miraculously saved. By showing us snippets of a few passengers’ lives before the incident, we’re more likely to get emotional and identify with the characters who could’ve easily been us. We get the backstory of an uncle, his son and nephew, who had found it very lucky to be able to get the last seats on the plane. Then, we see a grandmother quarreling with her daughter to get her son another gift. By familiarising with the lovely nature of the passengers, the audiences fully appreciate Sully’s action that has saved them, whether or not the NTSB thinks his decision was wise.
Clint Eastwood is basically commenting on how we live in such a cynical world where even a hero’s actions are doubted for commercial, robotic reasons, and how the human factor is sometimes completely forgotten.
Sully is a film that will definitely touch your heart and make you appreciate life. Do go watch it! You’ll even get a glimpse of the real Sully at the end of the film. You won’t regret it.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Runtime: 1h 36min