Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, directed by Clint Eastwood, is a structurally unconventional film – something I’m not opposed too. However, in the context of this film, it felt distracting and messy. I never felt like I got a clear, coherent idea of the primary characters in the film, and despite some solid performances, I was left struggling to connect myself to a film that lacked some genuine humanity. So I should probably get this review underway, as I certainly have some things to say.
The film tells the true story of US Airways pilot, Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger – played by Tom Hanks – and co-pilot, Jeff Skiles – played by Aaron Eckhart – who successfully landed their damaged plane in the Hudson River. It also explores the troubles that the two of them faced afterwards, as their actions were criticised, and thought to be unnecessarily dangerous.
What I think is the films main problem, is its total lack of focus (get ready to see the word focus a lot, by the way). From a structural standpoint, to a visual aesthetic standpoint and even the characters in the film – ‘Sully’ is a film that just gets tangled up in its self.
The one that stands out immediately: is the structure of the film. It takes what could have been a simple, linear story, and decides to jumble it all up; things are edited in a way that put sections of the film that would make sense at the beginning, and instead puts them nearer the end of the film. It then also takes the actual ditching of the plane, and shows it two different times, but at completely separate points in the film. There just seemed to be a lack of coherent thought in how the film should play out. Starting with, Sully after the accident and how it has mentally affected him, and then later on showing the accident but from two different perspectives and at two different times within the structure of the film just seems unnecessarily backwards.
It leaves be baffled as to why things were approached in such a confusing way. This film had much of the jigsaw assembled for it already; the first act was pretty much laid out by the real life events that had taken place. All they had to do was then expand and explore the stories of the people in the plane, post-accident. Taking the rest of the film to focus on the people on that flight and the affect it had on them, is something that would have made for a much more emotionally resonant film, and also would have served to enlighten people on the main aspect that we didn’t know that much about: how these people’s lives changed after such a traumatic event. Instead the film just mostly revolves around things we already knew about; offering very little new or compelling content.
Something that can at least be relied on, is the solid performances that lead the film. Both Tom Hanks (Sully) and Aaron Eckhart (Jeff Skiles) deliver performances that are enjoyable to watch. Hanks in particular is an actor who almost always delivers, and is someone who fills me with confidence when walking into a film. Yes, I would have liked the film to have spent much more time actually delving into the characters, as I feel I didn’t really get a clear sense of who they are, but as I’ve already pointed: the film lacks focus – so expecting it to give the necessary (and very wanted) exploration of the two characters, was just not going to be something I ever got.
I can also say that the film does a really good job of showing the events that took place on the plane before, during and after the ditching of the plane in the Hudson. It was well shot; I understood the make-up of everything within the harrowing situation, and it never felt like it was some shoddy CGI work, coupled with a sound-stage. It came off as believable, and certainly raised the heartrate.
I just wish that there was more consistency with the film; too often did I notice tonal inconsistencies, or lighting choices that didn’t match the rest of the films aesthetic, or music that just felt completely out-of-place and distracting from the resonance of the moment. For me there just seemed to be too much sloppiness with this film; it didn’t feel like a project that was given the time to properly take shape and find its rhythm.
In the end, Sully was a film that just didn’t add anything. I left this film being no better informed than when I went in. I didn’t get any of those emotional gut checks that would be expected from a film like this; in fact there was an overall lack of humanity to this film – so much of it felt cold and distant. It’s disappointing because I was expecting something much more fulfilling and artistically concise; and I just didn’t get that.
I will not be recommending, Sully: Miracle on the Hudson. I don’t know what else to say about this film, other than it’s not one that you need to make the effort to see.
What are your thoughts on, Sully? Let me know in the comments down below. If you’re interested, may I suggest giving my blog a follow, or following me over on Twitter – @GavinsTurtle. Thanks for taking the time to read this, I really do appreciate it.