Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
Director: Clint Eastwood
At 86, Clint Eastwood is not resting; he is becoming better, sharper and more effective as a filmmaker. Sully is a remarkable film about grand heroism in everyday life. Each person doing their job properly is all that is needed to overcome the biggest challenge. Staying alert and focused while you may have a plethora of things happening around you. The movie does not try to impress you, it leaves it up to you if you wish to engage with the story, listen to each dialogue carefully and examine all the evidence for yourself. It also does not try to create any kind of intrigue, no loopholes or suspense either. You are constantly searching for a conspiracy, but it has none. In fact, you could look up the footage from the real incident and you would be surprised that the film is a cleaner image of the same day shot with a good camera instead of a CCTV camera.
While the movie has been made with extensive attention to detail, one can only speculate if this was an attempt to once again glorify the real Chesley Burnett Sullenberger III who has had an exemplary career as a pilot and is now a top-ranked aviation security expert. It seems to do the contrary as Tom Hanks in his rendition of the character has made him appear more human, prone to errors and critical of himself at moments. Thereby giving us an opportunity to understand and appreciate the fact that heroism is not born suddenly, it evolves over a lifetime with very careful observation of oneself and the effects of the choices that one has made over countless opportunities. Every choice made in one’s lifetime comes together to give the strength when you need it to make that one heroic decision. The gut feeling that allows you to take a chance with the lives of hundreds of people, with a belief that it is the best that you would be able to do, and a hope that things might turn out for the better.
Other than introducing the rest of the world with Sully, and the swiftness and alertness of the aviation and rescue departments of the US, this film does two more things. First, it gives us a very real understanding of how it feels to do your job right. How it is important to consciously engage with the task that has been assigned to you, or the one you have assigned to yourself. You cannot cut corners, and you cannot throw your hands in the air, you are responsible enough to see through and do your job right, every single time, whatever it is that you do. As Captain Sully does his job, so do the NTSB and others involved in the rescue and investigation that follows, and only if you have done your job right, will you have the guts to stand a trial.
Second, it helps us understand that when each one is doing their job to the best of their knowledge, there could possibly be some conflict. In those conflicting situations, you cannot lose your ground out of respect, admiration, jealousy or awe. You have to work much harder to hold your ground and only when you are thoroughly convinced with the resolution of conflict do you take a step back, and when you do, you give the other person the respect, admiration and awe they deserve. Sully is an intense story, one where a hero is being constantly questioned and challenged for the choice he made, a story that would not ask you to be involved, make no attempts to get your attention, will not give you unnecessary jargon, but if you choose to engage with it, it will impress you. That’s a film doing its job right.
The writer is founder, Lightcube Film Society...