Sully (2016) Review

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A tightly paced and quick look into one of the greatest feats in recent memory. Like everyone else I’m sure we all remember where we were during the events of 9/11 or even the Miracle on the Hudson. I for sure remember where I was during 9/11, but this event seemed to have slipped my memory of where I was exactly. I knew about it, I knew that it happened and I know who the pilot is and everything to know about this event, but for the life of me I just can’t remember where I was when it happened. Come to think of it, before watching this movie, I really couldn’t remember all that much in the details other than the plane was landed on the river. For some reason this extraordinary event slipped my mind in the last several years, so I finally got around to watching this movie for the first time.

Clint Eastwood has a knack lately for directing real life stories about important events like this, Richard Jewell, American Sniper, or The Mule. There are some others that he has done also, but those were just to name a few. The thing about Clint Eastwood is that he’s a great director and tells great stories and doesn’t seem to ever make a bad film. My only issue with his directing style is that visually they all look the same. They all feel bland with the color palette and lighting.

It’s an issue that isn’t a negative towards the film, but is more a negative towards his directing style because the movie just feels bland. I understand that this is a real life moment and maybe it works for some people because it gives off the more real life color feel, but I just don’t like how bland it feels and how similar all of his movies are visually. Outside of that though, Eastwood directs this movie like he does any of his others.

When I started watching, I first noticed that the film was only about an hour and a half long which seemed a little odd since typically a drama like this would be a bit longer. I didn’t think too much on that though since I knew that it was a well-received movie and that there must have been a reason for it. This brings me to the pacing of the film along with the actual story. The pacing is quick and doesn’t give you much time to think about this movie being long or short and doesn’t drag in any places. I love how the story was revealed from all of the different perspectives in flashbacks sparked by Sully’s recovery and remembering of the event.

The problem I did have with Sully though is outside of the actual event, we never really got to understand who he was before the event and who he was after. I know that the film does a well enough job to show us that he is a caring guy who will put everyone before himself, but I wanted to get to know who he was more. There were a few instances where we got flashbacks from when he was much younger. Two specific scenes with the most interesting being when he was flying what I figured was some model of fighter jet.

These two moments showed us how skilled he was with aviation and flight and only strengthened our understanding of how good of a pilot he really is. Something that we really didn’t need assurance of. We could all tell from Tom Hanks’ performance of Sully that he was as good as he said he was, but there was really no need to show us those moments unless you were going to dive deeper into his history. I think that’s what this movie needed more than anything else, just more depth. It’s not often that I say a movie should be longer, but this movie really needed an extra thirty minutes to round itself out to two hours.

I think that the story they told was more just a focus on the actual event which is fine, but it also tries to lie the focus on Sully at the same time while not giving us more time with him. I feel like I’m ragging on this movie, but I’m not. It’s a very good movie that just has a few issues that I think would have made it even better. Visually the movie was outstanding with its different perspectives of the plane landing on the river as well as the different scenarios that were running through Sully’s head throughout the film after the event. The beginning is a very good example of a misdirection that visually was good and also took me off guard.

All of this is only heightened by the incredible performance of Tom Hanks as Sully. I say incredible, but that may be giving him just a bit too much credit. Everything Tom Hanks does is incredible, but he has such an ability to get lost in his character even though he’s as well-known as he is. He really did get lost in the person we know as Sully and I was impressed with how much he embraced that man and became him for the role. It’s not by any means Hanks’ best performance, but it helps the movie become better than maybe it would have been otherwise. All of the other actors outside of Aaron Eckhart were pretty much throwaway, but since the focus is supposed to be on Sully, I’ll give it a pass.  

Bringing everything together though, I think this movie should have been called “Miracle on the Hudson” rather than being called “Sully”. At times it feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It tries to focus on the event and the controversy with it while also trying to make Sully the main character and focus. I think that if it was a matter of balancing both of those elements then they should have wrote in more history of Sully leading up to the events rather than focus solely on the event from several different perspectives.

This is a very good movie for what it is with a quick pace that doesn’t waste any time trying to tell you the story. You get great visuals as well as an excellent performance, but you also get a story that feels cut short. This is a movie that for once could have been quite a bit longer for the sake of telling an even better story. I will go ahead and recommend this to anyone because I think the majority of people will enjoy it. I think it’s a movie that is definitely worth watching, so if you haven’t seen it then definitely go out and give it a shot.

If you have seen this movie then be sure to comment below or email us your thoughts at and follow us @TowerCityMedia

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