Twitter review: Trying to stretch out a drama of 3 ½ minutes to over 90 minutes doesn’t work that well.
Spoiler-free review: Flying can be a nerve-wracking experience. I know that I tend to only really relax once the plane has gone up towards cruising altitude, because the majority of crashes occur either during the takeoff or landing of a plane. For the people who were flying on the US Airways flight to Charlotte that January day in 2009, it would prove to be a lot more traumatic than usual.
This film follows Chelsea ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, the captain of flight 1549. The plane flew into a flock of birds during takeoff, and Sully was forced to land the plane on the Hudson River. His heroics were well documented in the news in the immediate aftermath, and he subsequently wrote a book about the incident, as well as other stuff that happened in his life. I haven’t read the book, so forgive me if I make an assumption – that Sully wrote the majority of that book about stuff that happened before and after in his life. Because the actual crash itself lasted all of 3 ½ minutes (as the trailer points out, the crash lasted 208 seconds). Even stretching that out to include stuff that happened immediately before and afterwards, that doesn’t make for much of a movie. So the people who made this movie had to pad the movie with something else.
What they did was focus on the investigation into the crash. Which, by itself, could have also made for an interesting film. Sadly, what we have here is the view of the investigators looking to pin the blame for the crash on Sully, arguing that he could have made it back to La Guardia airport, or to nearby Teeterboro Airport in New Jersey. The bulk of the film sees Sully having nightmares, talking with investigators, and wondering if he did the right thing. The film tries to make Sully sympathetic, but it has a hard time doing so, since so many people keep fawning over him.
Ultimately, the film wasn’t a bad film, but it was dull. It felt like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch that was stretched out to an hour and a half without bothering to add much depth to it. Tom Hanks, as usual, does a good job as Sully, and the acting of the airline stewardesses was also good. But good acting can only carry a film so far. Unfortunately, this film is a lot longer than 3 ½ minutes.
Spolier-filled review: I don’t know whose decision it was to make the investigating team act like some bad version of a corporate board which tries to take the hero down, only to have a mea culpa at the end of the film. But it was a bad one. I couldn’t believe for a minute that these investigators would be so callous as to try to railroad someone who had saved the lives of every person on that plane. Yes, I know that there are plenty of corrupt organizations, and there are plenty of assholes in the world. It’s certainly possible that things happened in real life as they did in the film. But by focusing on the investigation for most of the film, and with something that has been well documented in real life, we’re left with a bunch of padding leading to an inevitable conclusion.