From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Mon Sep 19 19:53:32 2016
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
CAPSULE: With one six-minute flight Chesley "Sully"
Sullenberger, went from being a respected but obscure
airline pilot to being a national hero who saved 155
lives after a plane crash. So why is he still having
nightmares, and why would the NTSB be having hearings
to determine if the cause of the crash was "pilot
error"? Why does Sully hate to be labeled a hero?
While at one time this story would have been about a
pilot using his flight skills to save the passengers
and crew aboard the plane, the modern story is as much
about what is human vs. the computer. Rating:
+2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport.
Flying the craft was Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, pilot, and
Jeffery Skiles, co-pilot. Less than three minutes into the flight
the plane flew into a flock of Canada geese. Both the engines on
the Airbus A320 were disabled. Sully had to make some very fast
decisions. He decided it was much too dangerous to land in
LaGuardia or nearby Teterboro Airport with no thrust from either
engine. His rather unorthodox idea is to attempt a water landing
in the Hudson River. Weeks later Sully is torn with self-doubt as
to whether his decision was the right one or whether the passengers
and crew, some 155 people, would have faced less risk had he tried
a more conventional emergency landing.
In director Clint Eastwood's and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki's
narrative, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has run
computer simulations of the flight and has found either airport
landing would have posed less danger to the lives on board the
plane. While the media has portrayed Sully as a hero who saved the
life of everybody on flight 1549, Sully is suffering from Post-
Traumatic Stress Disorder. Meanwhile, his family is pestered by
reporters and just about everybody else. It is in this frame of
mind that Sully has to defend his actions to the NTSB and its
damning computer simulations.
Tom Hanks plays Sully as a man with serious self-doubt. But the
viewer has few misgivings. Like Jimmy Stewart and Morgan Freeman
Tom Hanks is an actor we immediately associated with the good guys.
Having Hanks in the role immediately assuages any doubt that we
might have that Sully might have endangered his passengers. Hanks
is Mr. Integrity. Supporting Hanks is Aaron Eckhart as Jeff
Skiles, the co-pilot and loyal friend of Sully. Laura Linney plays
Lorraine Sullenberger, Sully's wife, who has little to do here but
worry about her husband and provide him some moral support.
A story about a six-minute flight is hard to adapt into a film
script. Should the film have all its action about the middle of
the film and then the rest filled with talk? Todd Komarnicki's
screenplay, directed by Clint Eastwood, solves the pacing problem
by starting the film just as the plane hits the geese, but at that
time it gives a short and incomplete telling of the events of that
day. From there the point of view jumps around in time, mostly
taking place during the later investigation by the NTSB. Eastwood
gives us only two quick scenes from Sully's past. It is not enough
to tell us much about him so it fails to broaden our understanding
of the character. Instead and to add more visual excitement there
are at least two fantasy sequences in which Sully imagines what a
disaster his decision might all two easily have been. Each ends
with a spectacular explosion.
The film SULLY is a tribute to a hero who does not wear a spandex
costume or have a license to kill. He is a flesh and blood human
with nonetheless tremendous skill. a man who knew what he had to do
to save lives. If there is any lingering doubt that he is a real
person, we see and hear him during the closing credits of the film.
I rate Clint Eastwood's screen adaptation of his autobiography a +2
on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.