Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of Debs and Song go to the movies! I’m so excited to finally review another film with my best friend and film buddy – Song! You might remember her from our previous posts together on the Korean film A Melody to Remember and the Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar. Well, we’ve decided to celebrate the beginning of fall with a joint review on one of the season’s most anticipated films, Sully!
Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks in the title role, Sully is a film about the Hudson Miracle Landing in 2009, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger performed a successful emergency landing on the Hudson River, which saved the lives of all 155 people aboard an Airbus A320.
So, Song, what are your general thoughts on the movie?
S: I thought Sully was good, but definitely not great. Tom Hanks was fantastic (as expected) and I liked that they didn’t make the story overly dramatic or exaggerated. However, it also isn’t a movie that lingered in my mind for a while after watching it – I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but then I went on with life and pretty much forgot about it.
D: I see. I actually really liked Sully. I thought it was a great movie, and it was especially refreshing in light of all the disappointing films in theaters this summer. I particularly liked the approach the movie took with this story – at first, I was concerned Sully would only be about the landing itself, which I felt would have been boring and not enough to fill its entire run time. But the movie is actually primarily focused on the investigations following the landing, which questioned whether Captain Sully had made the right decision to do a water landing. The film also takes a deep dive into the effect of the landing and investigations on Sully’s mental state. That made the movie much more intriguing, and I totally agree with you that Tom Hanks delivered a phenomenal performance. I wonder if he’ll possibly land an Oscar nomination for this role?
S: I agree that the approach the movie took with this story was good, but it also made the movie feel a bit slow. I was pretty surprised when I found out, after watching the movie, that its runtime is only 1 hour and 36 minutes, because it felt a lot longer than that to me. Instead of making the story overly dramatic, they went the opposite route of making it it too underwhelming. There were definitely some intense moments, but considering how crazy of an event the Hudson River landing was, the film actually had too little suspense. As for an Oscar nomination for Tom Hanks, though, it’s a little early to say but I wouldn’t be surprised.
D: Hmmm that’s interesting – I actually didn’t expect the film to be suspenseful because everyone already knows how the story ends in real life, but I did go into the movie expecting some kind of emotional impact because like you said, this was a crazy event, and I’m sure it was an extraordinary experience for everyone involved. And I think that emotional impact didn’t really come until towards the latter half of the movie when we start putting a face to each passenger on the plane, which makes us realize there were 155 souls aboard that plane, people who feel so familiar that they could have been my grandparents, a friend, or even me seven years ago. And I think it’s from that moment that the movie starts to powerfully engage its audience, and suddenly the fear, anxiety, relief, and gratitude every character feels during and after that incident becomes so much more vivid to the viewer, if not part of the viewer’s own emotions.
S: I definitely see where you’re coming from, and I agree to a certain extent. The second half of the film was certainly more emotionally charged, but even still, I don’t think there was any moment in the film that really made me feel the danger of the situation, the risk that was taken, and the possibility that 155 people could have died. Because those things never really hit me hard, the movie didn’t linger in my mind after watching it. On top of that, the ending of the movie was just a bit too cheesy in my opinion. It’s great that they tie everything back to all of the people involved and not just Captain Sullenberger, because it really isn’t just the Captain himself that is the hero in this event, but they way they tied it together felt a bit cheesy.
D: Haha, the ending was okay for me, but what really bothered me about the film was how flat the supporting characters were, especially Sully’s wife and co-pilot. I wish they could have been more 3D the way Sully’s character was. Literally all Sully’s wife did was cry and act anxious – it would have been interesting to dive deeper into her psyche and develop her into someone more than just the crying wife. Same goes for the co-pilot – they could have really made him into an interesting character because he was the only other person in the cockpit who not only witnessed, but also had some agency to impact the critical moments leading up to and after the emergency landing. In fact, the 2D nature of the supporting characters ironically undermines the film’s intent to show how everyone was a hero in some way because literally the only person that stands out to me in this entire incident is Sully. Sure, there were the rescue workers and the flight crew, but ultimately only Sully stands out, and everyone else fades into the background. Of course, there is the possibility that this is the case because Sully was played by Tom Hanks, and his outstanding performance just unintentionally outshined everyone. But it would have been nice to still see some more character development for the supporting cast.
S: Yes, I definitely agree that the supporting characters were flat! I was especially disappointed by the portrayal of Sully’s wife.
S: Despite the fact that I’ve only been criticizing the film, though, I want to emphasize once again that I genuinely enjoyed it while I was watching it. I appreciate the film’s approach, and the Hudson Miracle Landing is such an amazing incident to begin with that it often covers for the movie’s flaws. The fact that this isn’t just a movie, that this was a real incident, is what truly makes this a powerful movie. It might not be phenomenal, but Sully is definitely a film worth watching.
D: Totally agree. The fact that this is real incident makes this movie all the more powerful, and I would definitely recommend this film to people looking for something good to watch. Sully has totally revived my excited about going to the movies especially after this disappointing summer. I can’t wait to see all the other films are coming out this season! Are there any in particular that you are looking forward to?
S: There are so many films coming out in the next few months I’m looking forward to it’s hard to pinpoint which ones I’m looking forward to the most! Based on critic reviews and film festival hype, though, I’m definitely looking forward to La La Land!
D: Me, too! Me, too! I am super excited about La La Land! I also hope Jackie gets a US distributor, since it’s been doing pretty well in film fests, so I want to see it. Oh and also Scorsese’s Silence. Not much info has been released on that yet, but from what I can gather, it seems to be pretty epic!
Well, that’s all from us for today! See you all next time, and thanks, Song, for doing this review with me!
Song’s Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Deb’s Rating: 4/5 stars
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Todd Komarnicki
Cast: Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, Aaron Eckhart
Run time: 96 min