You know what really pisses me off? The haphazard way that people attribute favourable outcomes in life to divine intervention. Having recently watched Usain Bolt kick ass at the Olympics, I was always surprised that he crossed himself before a race, and pointed to the sky when he inevitably won it. Just once I’d like to see athletes cursing God’s name when they lose the race, “cheers for tripping me up Jesus, did you have money on the other guy or something?” In reality it is probably more down to personal skill, calmness under pressure and experience that allows athletes to win medals, and pilots to bring commercial airliners to land on rivers. But enough talk of people doing their job competently, this is a review of Clint Eastwood’s new movie about the “Miracle on the Hudson”.
Before we get into it properly, let me just say that this movie really had to work hard to let me down, you have an academy award winning director, my favourite actor of all time and a plot centred aroundplane crash in New York City – how do you manage to make a boring film out of that? Boggles the mind, it’s like stuffing up cooking 2 minute noodles.
Not every movie needs to fit into a three act structure and it is probably for the best that biographical dramas aren’t forced to adhere to them. However if you are going to have an unusual structure, at least make the writing flow smoothly. I have never wanted a script to be written by Aaron Sorkin more in my life than during the screening of Sully. It features lots of important dialogue scenes between important people and there aren’t any strong female characters for him to worry about; a perfect fit for Sorkin!
The tagline for the movie read something like; “I’ve had 40 years in the air, but I’m going to be judged on 208 seconds”. Those 208 seconds of the crash are by far the best part of the movie, at least the first time we see it. By the fourth or fifth time we see the plane go down it loses any, uh impact that it may have once had. I’m in two minds in regards to this, on one hand I kinda knew what I was in for when I turned up to a Knack concert, on the other hand I am going to go mental if I have to listen to ‘My Sharona’ one more time. Same goes for a movie about a plane going down I guess. Aren’t we spoiled with CGI these days, even an emergency landing can become routine to the point of boredom.
This will surprise no one who has seen American Sniper -which painted sniper Chris Kyle’s killing of 255 Iraqi people as an absolute good (rather than the messy grey that the whole conflict is/was), but Eastwood seems to only think in black and white terms. In the corner of the angels we have Captain Sullenberger pilot extraordinaire and in the other corner we have the National Transportation Safety Board who may as well twirl their moustaches and pet white fucking cats every time they are on screen. This kind of heavy handed handling of the characters makes me wonder if Clint has any grasp of narrative complexity at all. Actually scrap that, this is the same guy that talked to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention, I’m starting to question his grasp on reality in general.
Currently Hollywood seems to be shit scared of creating original intellectual property, instead choosing to adapt movies either from comic books or from the news headlines. This weakens movies when it is being done for name recognition’s sake alone. “The Miracle on the Hudson” is an interesting story, however seems too insubstantial when adapted to a big budget movie. An interesting contemporary for Sully is Flight (2012), which while not being Zemeckis’ best film managed to be about substance abuse and redemption, while the only thing Sully is about, is 96 mins long.