Eastwood, Hanks and a true story of heroism. Sounds like a recipe for an incredible film, reeking of Oscar bait. Whilst the outcome is a solid and beautiful tribute to the real life heroes, unfortunately, there’s not quite enough meat on the bones of the story to fully deliver the goods.
Centred around the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’, Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger’s incredible water landing of a crashing plane, saving 155 souls on board. Whilst these couple of minutes of heroic action were the ones reported worldwide, what is less well-known is the subsequent investigation surrounding the landing to determine whether Sully was really a hero, or if the water-landing was an unnecessary endangerment of life and the plane could have returned to the airport.
The film takes these two main parts of its story – the landing and the investigation – and structures them complexly, intertwining and repeating moments to make the audience review the situation as the investigatory is forced to, and make for an overall more interesting telling of a well-known story.
The sequences on the plane are especially gripping; a jolt of adrenaline surging in between the scenes detailing the investigation. The words ‘brace, brace’ will likely send shivers down your sign as you grip your seat, despite knowing the outcome. These are balanced out well by quiet, contemplative moments with Sully alone, and the successes and setbacks of the inquiry.
Of course, Tom Hanks is terrific, portraying more than just the one-dimensional ‘hero-type’ that could otherwise have been presented. He allows the audience to see inside Sully, to understand his mind and feelings he progresses through questionings and deals with newfound fame, provoking great empathy. He supported strongly by the likes of Aaron Eckhart as his copilot, and Laura Linney as his wife.
Arguably, even with the enquiry, there isn’t quite enough to pad out the film fully as it still feels a little bare. However, it is solidly entertaining and engaging film (as one would expect from such a stellar team), and worthy tribute to a real-life hero.