“Sully,” the latest directorial effort by Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper,” “Gran Turino”), starts well, but trails off as it introduces more characters and stretched-out plot elements.
‘Sully’ is based on the story of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and the emergency crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River.
Plot-wise, “Sully” is at its best when focusing on the titular character and is separated into three segments, each telling a specific part of Sully’s story. The first act does a great job of exploring the man behind the miracle and his experiences post-crash, while the second provides a tension-filled recollection of the crash itself.
Compared to the first two-thirds, however, the final act drags as it aims to provide closure to a relatively smaller plot element. This, coupled with a rather abrupt ending, actually ends up leaving more questions than answers.
In terms of cast, Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart do an outstanding job as Sully and co-pilot Jeff Skiles, respectively. Hanks carries the role with a sense of duty and respect that makes his portrayal come across as more relatable, and his banter with Eckhart provides levity in an otherwise serious movie.
The rest of the cast are more lackluster, however, especially Laura Linney as Sully’s wife Lorraine. This disparity between acting skills sadly becomes more noticeable during Hanks’ scenes with Linney, whose character often says or does things that never really make sense.
From a production standpoint, Eastwood’s growth as a director really shines. ‘Sully’ has great sound that draws you right into the cockpit and Eastwood’s desire for a more natural cinematic look compliments the material greatly. Everything seems more realistic, which makes the events of the film (and the true story behind it) that much more believable. Unfortunately, this realistic approach also draws attention to the required usage of CGI in certain parts of the film, making it stick out more than it normally would.
While “Sully” takes off strongly and features a great effort by Tom Hanks, the film is ultimately forced to land due to a lackluster final act and subpar cast performances.