Monday, September 12, 2016

Movie Monday: Sully

Give Clint Eastwood his due.

Pilot Chesley Sullenberger's landing of an A340 jetliner with two dead engines in the Hudson River in 2005 was a one-off.  No one had managed a water landing of a commercial jet before, anywhere.

Everyone on board survived.  Ferries and helicopters from New York and New Jersey whisked all the passengers and crew to safety in less than half an hour.

And somehow Eastwood got a 96-minute feature movie out of the material.

I'm not saying the movie is bad.  The film recreation of the jet's perilous decline and dangerous hover over and then on the water is stunning for its realism.  The portrayal of Sullenberger as a confident but modest man whose life prepared him for the ultimate three-minute challenge reads true.

There are doubts -- Sully's subsequent nightmares of flying airplanes into New York buildings, an FAA investigation into the cause of the crash -- that are credible.  The pilot did have bad dreams, and commercial jet crashes virtually always are attributed to pilot error, except in this case.

Tom Hanks, his hair dyed gray, portrays a careful, principled Sully whose modesty and self-control are rarely seen now, in film or life or political campaigns.

The timing of the "Sully" release, on the weekend of 9/11's 15th anniversary, was canny.  Box office sales -- $45 million worldwide -- were hailed as a great success for a post-summer movie.

(Never mind that a Captain America movie took in more than nine times as much on its first weekend in May, which does raise questions, if you think about it.  My guess is that superhero fans do not think about these things, however.)

This is said to be a movie for adults, with 80 percent of the audience over the age of 35.  The average age looked to be 70 or more in the theater where I saw the show.

The film is fine.  It does not drag.  It does not lose its focus.

Is it one for the ages?  I'm not so sure.

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