For Reel

Sully (2016)
October 2, 2016, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Clint Eastwood
4 Stars
sullyAs a director, Clint Eastwood’s most persistent fixation is the concept of legacy, and particularly what heroes are made of. Heroism to Eastwood, as it is was to Howard Hawks, is often linked with duty or professionalism—many audiences found American Sniper a tough pill to swallow because it asked us to identify (to some: celebrate) with a man who was particularly gifted at killing people. Just like that film, Sully showcases the mundane merits of doing a job well. Captain Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) isn’t cut for the part of hero—he’s traumatized by the horror of what could have happened—and yet the mantle of savior is thrust upon him, disregarding whether or not he is suited to it. In the extended sequences in which pilots in simulations are forced to recreate the situation that made a legend out of Captain Sullenberger, the mechanical recreations are treated as dryly comic. Because it is ridiculous to attempt to relive the events that made Sully a household name, these sequences argue that heroism is found not only technical skill, but in the instincts learned on the job. Eastwood’s own instincts as a director (and ultimately what leads his films to becoming understood) is to deal with these semantic complexities—his worldview is defined by seeming contradictions and logical flaws. To Eastwood, a character like American Sniper‘s Chris Kyle can be both a hero and monster, just as Captain Sullenberger can be both a hero and a man who just did his job.

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