Let me start off by saying that I had probably seen the full theatrical trailer for “Sully” upwards of a dozen times before actually going to see it in theaters, and every time I saw it I was on the brink of tears (if not past that). But just as many of the best jokes get spoiled in the trailers of comedies, “Sully” was not nearly as dramatic as the trailer would have you believe.
I’m not saying the film wasn’t intense or impactful, because it was both of those things, but it lacked a bit of the element of surprise when such scenes were portrayed. I know that sounds silly because the movie is based off of a true story from recent history, but even with biopics the creative team takes different approaches to how they wish to tell the story; those elements are the only things truly unpredictable about these films. However, with “Sully,” the trailers alluded to even the methods of storytelling and how the film was set up.
Despite its predictability, the film itself was fantastic. The use of flashbacks and nightmare sequences were hard to get used to at the start of the film, but once the initial back-story had been formulated the transitions made much more sense and occurred more seamlessly through their continued use.
The use of the media building up Captain Sullivan as the hero of the story before the investigation of the “crash” made the potential that the captain had, in fact, unnecessarily endangered the lives of his passengers all the more tense. Many scenes with the investigation board had me on the edge of my seat just as much as the scenes from inside the plane.
Although I’m not sure the studio would ever admit this, I have a feeling that releasing the film two days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11 was no coincidence. I can’t speak for everyone who saw it opening weekend, but viewing the film on the eve of that fateful day’s anniversary made it a much more emotional experience. This plane story is one with a happy ending – and as much is said in the film itself – so it stands to reason that it would draw people in, especially so close to a day where the outcome was far more horrific in nature. Regardless if it was intentional or not, I think the selection of this release weekend was a good move on the studio’s part.
Besides the star-studded main characters and the investigation board full of favorites from the small screen, the nicest surprises of the film came with the unexpectedly funny one-liners that broke up the tension and seriousness of the film beautifully. Interestingly enough, few of these quips came from Tom Hanks (Sully himself). He remained the dutiful, I-did-what-I-had-to-do captain throughout the film, which caused a bit of conflict with the investigation board. Luckily, Sully’s first officer Jeff Skiles (played by the dynamic Aaron Eckhart) provided much of the comic relief in the film with his wry but honest sense of humor.
Overall, the film was extremely well-done. I would highly recommend it to anyone with even slight interest in the subject at all, and I believe it will garner at least a handful of much-deserved nominations when awards season rolls around.