September 18, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

If you are hoping for a good old fashioned airplane disaster flick, this is not the film for you. Measured, studied, cautious… this film is the opposite of the genre that dominated the 1970s. Except in fleeting glimpses, we do not see the actual crash until 40 minutes into the film and, even then, it is presented with a respectful reverence and reserve. Director Clint Eastwood clearly is enamored of his eponymous lead character. Chesley Sullenberger is, without a doubt, a classic American hero; a real “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” type. He is noble, self-sacrificing, humble, sincere, honest, courageous, and the list goes on. He is also not terribly exciting. He is, by all accounts, a fairly mild-manner guy and Tom Hanks captures that disposition well. And, while this makes for a sometimes interesting film, it doesn’t make for a very engaging one. Eastwood is determined to tell us the behind the scenes story about what happened in the days following the crash (or “forced water landing,” as Sully would call it). While the rest of the world was heralding Sully as a hero, the TSA was suggesting something far less flattering. Watching that story unfold was a somewhat interesting curiosity but it never had much life in it. Even the final hearing scene, which was supposed to be the big climax of the film, felt antiseptic and overly long. Eastwood’s steadfast commitment to not exaggerating or sensationalizing is admirable but the story just doesn’t have much weight on its own. In the end, I think it would have made a really interesting TV documentary but was a bit of a lean subject for a feature film.


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