Sully (2016) {spoiler alert}

“Brace for impact.”

An emotionally charged tale of survival against all odds, made possible because of the lightning fast decision taken by a brave pilot – that is Sully, and Clint Eastwood brings it to life with flawless brilliance.

Captain Sullenberger aka Sully is already a hero – the nation has already embraced him as one since he managed to deliver all 155 passengers on his plane alive after a bird strike made the plane lose both engines at a low altitude. 

However, that is where the story starts. Sully is already a hero – but is he? An unexpected event resolved in an unprecedented manner is bound to be scrutinized. The writing is spectacular. Todd Komarnicki has done a magnificent job slowly unravelling the actual event while entwining it with Sully’s story – the psychological effect of the event on him, his family and the NTSB investigation in which we will find out if this really was the only option or did Sully endanger 155 lives for nought when they could have been saved much more easily. 

The way the story has been written, the impact builds up so much more. We are watching Sully, celebrating, trusting, suffering and doubting him in turns as he does. Tom Hanks is so perfect in his role that I feel like a speck of dirt even trying to comment on his acting. There is nothing I can say which will do him justice. He is a genius. This movie was already a 3+ pointer when they cast him in the role. It is sheer pleasure watching the man work his art like magic. I’m blessed that I get to view such brilliance.

Of course a linear storyline would have made it a mediocre movie so yes, again, a lot of credit to the glorious writing for giving a good direction to the story. It is uncomplicated despite being an aviation movie. The use of details is minimal (because it is not a documentary) and it helps a viewer like me get engrossed while feeling that ‘yes, I am following you’. I can’t even name basic plane parts and aviation science is a mystery to me. And even though, given the NTSB part of the movie, it means a lot of highlighting of technical things, it was all done in a very comprehensible way. I really applaud this because this helps me enjoy the movie so much more.

Aaron Eckhart was pretty good in his role, too. I enjoyed watching him with Tom Hanks. I feel nostalgic when I see how old they really are now but really, he did a good bit of work here. Everyone in the movie acted well. It was good, really good.

 Given the fact that I was terribly unimpressed by American Sniper, this was a very pleasant surprise to me. I’m not a Clint Eastwood fan (politically speaking) but he has always won my respect with the movies where he puts in good work. The actual event was amazing – strong raw material. So I appreciate that he did not mess it up and brought it to the audience in this resplendent manner. I shall set aside all political nonsense and give him a standing ovation for a job well done here. (Although I still maintain casting Tom Hanks as Sully was 70% of it anyway).

The Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing was well deserved. Being an aviation movie, it had a lot of potential in this area and yes, it lived up to it. 

I loved the cinematography by Tom Stern a lot as well. He works well with Clint Eastwood. There’s this one particular scene which I like the best. Sully calls home and tells his wife about the trouble with NTSB and the play of lights and shadows on his face as he first shows some despair and then thinks back on his decision is wonderful. 

“Human factor in the cockpit.” 

aka the big spoiler. 

I spent quite a lot of emotions being invested in the actual crash/water landing scenes and it was all quite worth it when Sully finally brings out his big gun. He is a human being – a human being with no training for such a situation managed to achieve this piece of miracle. The point is driven home strongly and yes, again, very good writing.

The movie had an event and a message and all of it delivered with the best of skills. Yet, I shall classify it not only as a drama/biography, but also as a thriller because once the end credits start rolling, that is the word that first came to my mind – absolutely thrilling!


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