Monday 12 September 2016

Sully ... Sept 11 balm

IT'S not a coincidence that director Clint Eastwood's Sully is released during the 15th anniversary of
the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the US. What people remember most of that fateful day is the two passenger aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center buildings.
   Sully is based on the real story of Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, a pilot with 42 years of flying experience, who glided his stricken plane onto the Hudson River on Jan 15, 2009, thus saving all 155 people on board.

   You'd have thought that people would have rejoiced at this miraculous act, but the National Transportation Safety Board has other ideas, and two officials in particular believe that Sully could have avoided ditching his plane and landed at either LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, or Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.
  The uncertainty over whether Sully did the right thing or whether he could have landed in an airport makes up the film's dramatic angle. What is interesting to note is Sully's nightmare and reverie about him crashing the plane into a Manhattan, New York, building.
   Viewers will immediately make the link between the crashes and Sept 11. I asked myself whether I
Aaron Eckhart and Tom Hanks fly into trouble.
was watching the right film, supposedly about the heroism of a quick-thinking pilot, or whether it was about offering Americans a balm on the anniversary of the attacks.
    The film plays out as an extended courtroom drama as Sully and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) inch toward a hearing held by the board to probe into the water landing.
   Along the way, viewers are treated to flashbacks about Sully's early flying days as a crop duster and what happened just before he boarded the plane. There are scenes about what happened in the plane and cockpit in the moments after birds damaged the plane's engines, but viewers never know what fully transpired between the two pilots until the last moment.
    The film is called Sully and it's only right that Eastwood focuses on the man himself, as no other person could have imbued the character with dignity, compassion and self-doubt as well as Hanks. Hanks has made a living playing noble characters and viewers will feel this emotion emanating from Sully.
    Sully doesn't exhibit anger or exasperation with the board's insistent interrogation. "They're just doing their job," he says. To forget his problems, he goes for a jog in freezing New York City. He has just launched a website offering his services as a safety expert, so he worries that a negative verdict could shut it down.
    He also has to calm his wife, Lorraine (Laura Linney), and their two daughters. Lorraine is your usual distraught wife, but who reminds him that their house hasn't had a tenant for nine months.
  He feels
Sully is the responsible captain right to the very end.
overwhelmed by the attention lavished on him, especially with people calling the landing a miracle. Someone says that the landing is good news for a city that hasn't had much of it lately. He gladly shares the praise with his co-pilot, and says that all those who helped in the rescue played a vital role.
   In the end, viewers will fly away with memories of a good, grey-haired man who used his instincts and decades of flying to save his passengers.
   If viewers feel tears washing over them, it's because Eastwood and Hanks have combined to display courage in a moment when the country so badly needs it.

3½ out of 5 stars


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