No doubt Capt.
If the name doesn't ring a bell, let me fill you in: He was landing an airplane on the
Y'know, just another day in the cockpit.
This situation dubbed the "Miracle on the
For the record, you had me at Aaron Eckhart.
But "Sully" isn't so much about the crash itself -- err, "forced water landing" -- as it is about the questions posed because of it, and the biggest one of all is at the top of the
And the movie takes an atypical, non-sequential approach to telling this tale, kicking off with audio snippets of cockpit chatter just before the incident -- then a frightening call of "Mayday, mayday ...," visuals of flames and terrified passengers, and chaotic and constant beeps from alarms.
It's pretty much the scariest scenario imaginable.
There are a few flashback sequences like this scattered throughout, each time giving us more detail -- eventually right down to ordinary things like which kind of sandwich Sully ate before the flight or the dynamic of a group of guys who almost missed final boarding -- about what happened when
We all likely know the story, but in between, we get the other story, of which probably few of us were aware, investigating this seasoned pilot and whether the actions he took were the correct ones.
"I eyeballed it," Sully says when asked at an NTSB Human Performance Investigation meeting why he chose to land the plane where he did.
With insufficient altitude to either return to
Sully seemingly did everything right, but "not for the airline and insurance company."
Never mind that every one of the 155 passengers and crew on board survived.
Never mind that cab drivers were "honored" to be in his presence and complete strangers were giving him hugs.
Never mind that "it's been a while since
The man hailed a "hero" is having to account for his sleep patterns, his blood sugar levels, his last drink -- and explain to the
It is, and no matter what he does, the memory of the event continues to haunt Sully. He goes for a run, it's a distraction in his own head or projected on huge televisions all over
And Eastwood's bombardment of the images and chaos fully express these lingering effects. Sully cannot escape it, and he begins to question himself: "What if I did get this wrong so close to the end of my career?" he asks his wife,
"In the end," this pilot with more than 40 years of experience realizes, in one of the most powerful statements of the entire film, "I'm gonna be judged on 208 seconds."
His career and reputation are on the line, and we get it. We feel this guy's story because we understand his conviction.
There's not a whole lot of action, save for the landing and rescue scenes, but the narrative itself is strong enough to maintain a high level of interest. And such an intimate tale I think benefited from having
Hanks and Linney never share the screen together, but the close-ups and slow-zooms of their phone conversations subtly detail the emotional burden each of them bears.
The memory and daydream sequences feel personal and desperate, whether utilizing hypnotic reflections, or shaky images, or the emphatic zooms and pans, or the lighting and sounds of impending doom.
And that quick-zoom close-up on Sully's face when he warns his passengers to "brace for impact" is downright chilling.
I would have barfed, but I do that on planes.
There's some speculation as to whether the portrayal of the
According to an article at cbsnews.com, the investigation in the movie was presented as more of an interrogation. There was an 18-month probe, but there may have been some artistic license exercised to make things more dramatic for the film -- y'know, create a villain. Eastwood seems to have interpreted the script to suggest that
Eckhart gets the majority of the great lines here, from his vulgar, knee-jerk comment on the temperature to his witty response when asked what, if anything, he'd change if he had to do it all over again.
And there's really no one better to deliver these lines; Eckhart has mastered the demeanor yo-yo, the art of being wryly playful one moment and deadly serious the next. And he's so good at both.
What can I say about
There's a moment during which, if things actually played out as they're portrayed (and they may have; I wasn't there), it would have been completely justified for Sully to stand up, take a bow and walk out of the room without saying a word.
Because that's how it played out in my head. Wink.
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