While led by a solid performance by Tom Hanks, Sully is bogged down by frustrating narrative lurches and a thin script.
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Lets get this out of the way first. Yes, Sully bears striking resemblance to 2012’s “Flight”. They both feature stories of pilots who successfully crash landed a plane, and are brought to court. But for a movie advertising itself as the ‘untold story’ behind the event, Sully feels exceedingly safe in its approach, and ends up as a biopic that treads lightly but never delves deep into its characters.
As a character study, Flight handily beats out Sully by willing to show us the man behind the pilot, warts and all. That isn’t to say Sully isn’t compelling at times. Hanks gives a quiet but grounded performance, and in the first third of the movie hints at a far more interesting picture. It features self doubt, PTSD, and a man struggling under the weight of sudden attention.
Then it all gets thrown away with the flashbacks and flash forwards. Yes, Sully disappointingly resorts to more narrative jumps then an episode of Lost. Flashbacks into the past show tiny glimpses of Sully’s past, but its all surface material. We never truly get under his skin and the flashbacks constantly halt the pacing. This would have been a far stronger picture if told linearly, and the technique ends up feeling like padding out an already thin story. There just isn’t much to go on here.
When all is said and done, Sully isn’t a terrible movie by any means. It is just so painfully mediocre, and a minor entry into Eastwood’s already strong filmography. I cannot recommend Sully when “Flight” is essentially a better version of this.