• Review: Sully (2016)

    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.

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    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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