Equal parts courtroom drama and disaster movie, Sully is a sturdy yet uneven movie that will please most audiences. And, by sturdy, I mean like last year's Bridge Of Spies: slow, steady, carefully produced, and completely outlined in the preview to the point that you always know what's about to happen. Sully is about the ride, not the outcome, just as it was with Spies -- and it's a pretty good ride. By "uneven," I allude to the myriad of acting styles that director Clint Eastwood has whipped up into a discordant medley from actors known for first-rate work.
Clint continues his one-man quest to keep the cinematic archetype of John Wayne alive onscreen with the same dedication Woody Allen has to reminding us that men endlessly yearn for a chick -- I mean lady -- they can't have. Eastwood's movies almost always center around a character stoic to the degree of self-righteousness, broody and heroic to the point you wanna slap them. He's inspired the same kind of performance out of Hanks, looking exactly like Captain Kangaroo after six months on the Atkins diet: trim and a little wan but still plenty stoic as Flight Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenburger. Sully famously landed a US Airways flight on the Hudson River, saving all 154 passengers and crew members.
Not everyone is anxious to herald Sully a hero. The airline and its insurance entities, who want to pin the mishap on human error, insist the captain could have made it back to an airport without the water landing ... hence the courtroom drama, which anchors a series of flashbacks of the near deadly emergency in the air.
And, speaking of the crash, I had been told that this reenacting was held to the end, but that's not true. We get to see lots and lots of it from many angles and perspectives, human and otherwise. If, like me, you're already a nervous flyer, you may want to catch this at home if at all. These scenes are artfully captured and will make your hands sweat.
The scenes not in the air are a slightly rougher ride. Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) is a remarkable actress but is directed here to look like a disgruntled evil queen from an episode of Once as she portrays an airline investigator. Everybody's just a little melodramatic, and people often appear like they're in a car commercial. Crowd scenes, especially, offer overacting en masse -- not completely unlike some of Spielberg joints. And, of course, there's a wife who phones it in ... literally. Laura Linney plays the suffering wife we only get to see during teary phone conversations. Probably only one day's work, but she's wonderful and possibly the most real characterization of the production.
However, most folks will find my quibbling with the acting trivial and will not let it get in their way of enjoying this very solid B+ film.
(Loudinni provides movie reviews under 500 words, sans spoilers.)