dir Clint Eastwood
scr Todd Komarnicki
prd Clint Eastwood, Frank Marshall
with Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Mike O'Malley, Anna Gunn, Jamey Sheridan, Holt McCallany, Michael Rapaport, Valerie Mahaffey, Delphi Harrington, Blake Jones, Katie Couric
release US 9.Sep.16, UK 2.Dec.16
16/US Warner 1h36
Heroes on trial: Hanks and Eckhart

linney omalley gunn
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Sully In retelling the events of a real-life near disaster, director Clint Eastwood thankfully avoids over-egging the story. There's plenty of genuine emotion throughout this cleverly written film, but not a whiff of sentimentality or triumphalism. This is a brisk, skilful depiction both of what happened, and also of an inspiring act of everyday courage.

In January 2009, a passenger jet with 155 people on board made an emergence landing in the Hudson River alongside Manhattan, and everyone miraculously survived. Over the following days, Captain Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger (Hanks) and First Officer Jeff Skiles (Eckhart) cooperate with investigators who are looking for answers, mainly due to the massive insurance claim involved. Sully wants to remind them not to overlook the human factor in both his decision-making and in the quick reactions of everyone else too, including air traffic controllers, ferry pilots and scuba cops who came to the rescue.

Intriguingly, Komarnicki's script sifts through the real people to highlight key figures who hint at the usual disaster movie types, from Sully's alert wife (the great Linney) back home to a selection of quirky passengers to the investigators (sharply played by O'Malley, Gunn and Sheridan). But since these are real people, he never needs to boost them melodramatically; he just gives them a place in the story and moves on. This approach is echoed throughout the crisp, efficient production, which doesn't waste a single moment of screen time.

At the centre, Hanks and Eckhart offer remarkably transparent performances as men who understand the details of what happened far better than the flag-waving media with their weeping witnesses or the dubious officials with their computer simulations. These two actors underpin their straightforward dialog by allowing the raw emotion to simmer just out of sight. And Eastwood directs everyone else in the cast to try to hold their feelings inside as much as possible, so what does emerge feels unstoppable.

The narrative is splintered into flashbacks (and one oddly disturbing vision) that are triggered by various events, beautifully constructing the full picture from every conceivable angle. Film editor Blu Murray puts all of this together with striking clarity, fitting the cold facts in alongside the earthy humanity. Without ever pushing the point, the film becomes a striking portrait of men who would never call themselves heroes. They were merely doing their jobs at the right place and time. And all of us can identify with that.

cert 12 themes, language, some violence 11.Oct.16

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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall