Wednesday 7 December 2016

Review: Sully

Cert: 12A / 96 mins / Dir. Clint Eastwood / Trailer

The new Clint Eastwood directed movie, Sully - the story behind airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger and the famous forced water-landing in 2009 whereby he successfully prevented any fatalities - is currently sitting at an 85% critics' approval rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, with the audience response slightly higher at 87%. I only mention this because if you want to read something reassuringly positive and uplifting about the film, that's where you'll find it…

Fresh from failing to adequately depict or explore PTSD, Uncle Clint manages to take another remarkable story which would have made a fantastic documentary, and instead fashion a mawkish, simplistic and completely patronising TV melodrama. Naturally, in addition to several depictions of the forced landing in question, the film also features two exquisitely CGI'd sequences of a passenger jet crashing into the New York skyline in a ball of flames and seared flesh, just to show that our heroic captain is having 'episodes' after the incident and absolutely not at all to be exploitative and dramatic about an event where everyone actually survived. Dear me no, no. Dear me, no.

Todd Komarnicki's screenplay*1 clunks from one scene to the next, with characters either narrating exactly what's happening on-screen or just verbally spouting their inner monologues full of clichéd platitudes to fill the gaps. Overall, it's Aaron Eckhart who manages to escape with the most dignity, starring as Sully's co-pilot with the fewest lines in the script. And don't let the reviews kid you, Tom Hanks' performance in this film is in no way special or extraordinary; he just plays Tom Hanks With White Hair, metaphorically phoning in his performance (unlike Laura Linney as his wife, who literally phones in hers). Meanwhile, the dastardly crash-investigation team smirk and twiddle their moustaches for two and a half acts before Mr Eastwood stops one beat short of sending a silver-service butler into the courtroom to announce "And now ladies and gentlemen, some humble-pie of truly epic proportions is about to be served!". All that remains is a closing-credits sequence whereby the actual real Mr Sullenberger is reunited with his actual real passengers in an aircraft hanger for forced jollity all round. Like the film hasn't already shown the guy going through enough without having to appear as himself in a bad version of his own worst day.

I'm very much aware that due to its content and tone, Sully is a sort of cinematic sacred-cow. I don't care, this is a terrible movie and it needs to be called out. The film doesn't celebrate Chesley Sullenberger, it patronises him to within an inch of his life, and Clint Eastwood couldn't direct traffic on a one-way street.

Anyway, if memory serves, Denzel Washington did pretty much the same thing, but with a crushing hangover to boot. I think we all know who the real hero is here…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Biting the inside of your own cheek to avoid shouting at the screen for an hour and a half.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Yeah, the four (four) flight simulations we're treated to at the film's climactic courtroom scene work so much better on the big screen.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
According to the folks over at RT, yes.
Obviously, I beg to differ

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's not even Eastwood's best as a director, and that's saying something.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Y'know what? I might, a little bit…

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film stars Sam Huntingdon, who was also in Fanboys alongside Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Ray Park and a metric shit-ton of Star Wars references.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 The poster cites this as "The untold story behind the miracle on the Hudson". Untold story. It's based on Sullenberger's own book. That's where we are before we've even sat down in the auditorium...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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