Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sully (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Here is "Sully," Clint Eastwood's latest, and once again, (as in American Sniper's Chris Kyle) he gives his audience a portrait of small town Americana and a local hero. As a character study it is a good one. USAir pilot Captain "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) strives to cope with apocalyptic nightmares given his experience with a flock of geese  that caused a twin engine failure and an emergency landing in the Hudson River on January 15th 2009.

Sully is almost supernaturally cool under pressure. In the air nothing rattles him, but once grounded, nightmares decend upon him and everything is in question, even the bliss of his marriage to Lorraine (Laura Linney). The pilot has just saved all of the 155 souls on board a flight from New York to Charlotte, but what if the NTSB finds him negligent over some missed protocol or procedure? Did he really do the best of all possible actions?

Eastwood makes his Sully into a Kafkaesque and Libertarian Everyman as the air expert confronts the snide and nit-picking agents who are obsessed with bureaucracy. Although Eastwood takes political and poetic licence with his hero, this is a solid picture of a man who makes mistakes but does right. We see Sully in the Air Force flying a comprised craft to safety. He takes both criticism and praise in stride.

Despite his usual even keel, however,  there is a touch of Scottie Ferguson, the protagonist from Hitchcock's "Vertigo" within the air pilot. He is frequently nervous on solid ground and prone to dizzying visions of a plane falling from a great height and slicing into the business district. Like Scottie, Sully is modestly shy under the gaze of female worship and eager to take to the air once again so that the disabling fugues will cease. There is one such segment in which journalist Katie Couric turns almost demonic in her belittling criticism of the captain.

Just when the imps of guilt threaten to topple the stoic Sullenberger, his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) is ready with a light joke.

If you can take Eastwood's suspicion of government authority, "Sully" is a solid portrait, deftly handled by Hanks, who all but disapears behind the pale levels of this unassuming man.

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