Sully: insightful, to-the-point tribute, despite a few pacing missteps


Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Productions

Tom Hanks as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who was forced to land on the Hudson River.

Seth Ritchie, Staff Writer

Sully, released September 9, 2016, follows Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) dealing with the consequences of his decision to force land his failing aircraft into the Hudson River, while also trying to stabilize his own emotional state.

Sully is a refreshing break from conventional Hollywood storytelling as director Clint Eastwood (American Sniper, Gran Torino) chooses to show only scenes essential to the plot, making the movie more concise while adding a layer of subtlety. Every performer in the movie brings humanity to their character. Tom Hanks, as expected, delivers an exceptional performance as the titular protagonist, and Aaron Eckhart, playing Sully’s co-pilot Jeff Skiles, does a great job bouncing off Hanks, providing depth to Skiles’ character while also helping to reveal Sully’s distress. Sully succeeds as a sincere tribute to Sullenberger rather than just another hero movie by focusing on Sully’s inner turmoil rather than focusing on his heroic actions. Scenes depicting Sully’s unease show the human behind the name, and Hanks’ subdued performance makes them all the more believable.

Sully is told mostly through flashback, as the film starts a few days after the accident. While most of these flashbacks are easy to follow, some are quite jarring and at times ruin the audience’s immersion. Even the flashbacks that are not confusing affect the pacing of the film, making it more disjointed than it could have been. Sadly, there is not much of a satisfying resolution. The climax comes and goes, and the movie abruptly ends. While this move fits the movie’s purposefully to-the-point attitude, it is hard not to feel a little let down.

Sully is a very human movie. Despite a few missteps, by keeping the movie concise and focusing primarily on Sully’s personal crisis, Eastwood successfully manages to create an earnest tribute to an everyday hero.