September, 2016, Drama



86 year-old actor/director Clint Eastwood has been a staple in Hollywood for more that 60 years and in the last decade alone has directed a string of box-office successes ranging from Letters to Iwo Jima, to the Oscar-winning American Sniper. His latest effort, recounts the dramatic crash landing of a USAir jetliner in the icy waters of the Hudson River in January 2009.

Like most of the director’s earlier films, this one’s marked by  low-keyed craftsmanship; a style punctuated by straight forward narratives and simple, direct and visually exciting images. That said, this 96 minute examination of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s skill and temperament suffers from the same deficiency that accompanied American Sniper; both lionize contemporary iconic heroes whose actions have garnered so much public adulation that the movies about their accomplishments never rise above memorializing what we already know about the men involved.

Tom Hanks not only plays the unflappable career pilot—he embodies Sully’s cool professionalism and technical expertize. The film is structured around the post-crash investigation by The National Transportation Safety Board, which allows screenwriter Todd Komarnicki to provide lots of impressive jargon about the scrutiny to which the captain and his co-pilot (wonderfully underplayed by Aaron Eckhart) were subjected in the course of concluding that without their quick thinking and courageous behavior the emergency landing couldn’t possibly have resulted in saving the lives of everyone on board.

Cinematographer Tom Stern, who has worked on nearly a third of the films Eastwood’s directed, employs computer-simulation techniques and wide-angle cameras to put Sully’s audience on the plane so convincingly that you can feel a bit squeamish about vicariously participating in this handsome, well-crafted effort.

The Verdict? Solidly entertaining, if totally predictable movie-making.     

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