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Film Review: SULLY

Tom Hanks stars in Clint Eastwood’s dull airplane drama: a film that did not need to be made.

With all due respect to Captain Chesley Sullenberger, his story didn’t deserve a feature film. In expanding a scene that should last 10 minutes to an 85 minute film, director Clint Eastwood has injected unnecessary tension and conflict into a relatively simple story of courage and professionalism.

Tom Hanks is at his most dutiful, and his least impressive, in the role of the brave American pilot whose determination to carry out his job leads him to save dozens of lives by landing his plane on New York’s Hudson River. Eastwood presents the crash-landing from three different angles, making the best use of his IMAX cameras but achieving little else. Filling time between these alternate set-pieces are excruciating interrogation and courtroom sequences, featuring blink-and-miss-it appearances by Anna Gunn and Mike O’Malley, trying to prove that Sully had an alternate option for landing the plane. The back-and-forth between these legal figures and the two pilots (Sully and Aaron Eckhart’s co-pilot) couldn’t be less compelling. As Sully’s characterless wife, Laura Linney is reduced to an embarrassing cameo. Sully’s story, as momentarily astounding as it was, did not need to be told in this manner.

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Lucien writes on film, television and politics at and co-hosts the podcasts Above All Else and The 99%.

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