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‘Sully’ Critical Roundup: Tom Hanks is Very Good, But the Plane Crash is the Star

Critics also applaud the visual effects and use of IMAX cameras.

Tom Hanks Aaron Eckhart Sully


Best Director (Clint Eastwood, contender)

Best Actor (Tom Hanks, contender)

Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood’s last film, “American Sniper” (2014), earned six Oscar nominations. He now returns with Tom Hanks as his leading man in “Sully,” a dramatic true story of pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who became a hero after an engine failure forced him to land his plane in the Hudson River, saving all his crew and passengers. The first reviews are in, and while they say the film reflects Eastwood’s solid filmmaking, Hanks always comes out on top.

IndieWire’s Eric Kohn gave the film a B- and noted:

“Clint Eastwood digs behind that astonishing visual, providing a compelling assessment of the eerie moments leading up to it. With Tom Hanks appropriately cast as good-natured Sully, Eastwood delivers an earnest, straightforward look at the way the captain’s professionalism saved the day. But while that aspect of the movie hits more than a few obvious notes, the crash is the real star of the show.”

READ MORE: ‘Sully’ Review: Tom Hanks Is a Hero In Clint Eastwood’s Drama, But the Crash Is the Real Star of the Show

Peter Debruge of Variety applauded Hanks’ performance:

“‘Sully’ offers a rare example of a movie inspired by good news — the best news, as one character points out, that New York has heard in a long time, ‘especially with an airplane in it’… This is Hanks’ show, and he delivers a typically strong performance, quickly allowing us to forget that we’re watching an actor. With his snowy white hair and mustache to match, Hanks conveys a man confident in his abilities, yet humble in his actions, which could also be said of Eastwood as a director.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy called the drama an “elegant and eloquent docudrama,” adding:

“When you get right down to it, there’s not a whole lot of story in Komarnicki’s screenplay, only a central incident that can be examined from multiple perspectives and a main character whose core values are put to the test and found valid … Hanks confidently carries the film as a man of undoubted decency and judgment who is nonetheless made to question, however incorrectly and briefly, actions prudently made under conditions of great stress.”

READ MORE: ‘Sully’ Trailer: Tom Hanks & Clint Eastwood Bring Heroic Tale To Thrilling Cinematic Life

Alfonso Duralde of The Wrap was a big fan of the visual effects and the use of IMAX cameras:

“Eastwood’s use of IMAX cameras for nearly all of the filming reveals a hidden muscle. Not only does the large format provide the expected visceral oomph to the flight scenes and skyline vistas, but it also imbues even simple, understated images — a darkened close-up of Sully’s worried face, his nighttime jogs through Manhattan to release tension — with a magnified intensity commensurate to the feelings in play. ‘Sully’ in IMAX offers welcome proof that, in the careful hands of a real director, outsized doesn’t have to mean overwrought.”

Giving the film a B, Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly admired Hanks’ acting abilities:

“It’s an effectively thrilling story of quietly unassuming, can-do American heroism-the kind, sadly, we don’t get to witness much these days…The reason why the movie works at all is Hanks… Hanks, of course, brings a career’s worth of excellence, depth, good will, and trust-me assurance to the story that isn’t necessarily in Todd Komarnicki’s script.”

The Guardian’s Nigel M Smith gave the film three stars out of five and wrote:

“There’s little crass audience manipulation in Eastwood’s depiction of the harrowing plane landing and the surprising investigation that followed – he’s the type of director who just gives it to you plain and simple. The chance to see an IMAX-shot recreation of the shocking landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the middle of the river is no doubt a big selling point. In that sense, Sully delivers tenfold.”

“Sully” opens in theaters on September 9.

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