It’s a challenge to present a story that’s dramatic when the audience knows what happened, but that’s exactly what Clint Eastwood pulls off here. Before looking into it I wrote next: “And a big part that success is that unless you followed the case closely, you don’t know what happened.” But as I often do with “true story” films, I looked into the depiction of events in the film as compared to the facts, and it seems that Eastwood may have inserted his political views into the film; Wikipedia:
Stephen Cass, writing in the left-leaning UK paper The Guardian, declared that “In depicting government investigators as petty and clueless, the Hudson plane crash film trumpets a libertarian worldview at the expense of passenger safety”, noting that “It’s not hard to see why this tack appealed to strident libertarian Eastwood”
If you are interested, and why wouldn’t you be, I recommend reading the entire section. Based on Sullenberger’s statements, it might be that the film adhered to the actual events a little more than Cass asserts. That is, the truth may lie somewhere in-between.
I have mixed feelings about movies that take liberties with true stories, but for the most part I’m more interested in seeing a good movie than worrying about how completely objective it is. This isn’t a documentary, after all. As I always pipe in my blog: story matters. So give me a good one.
And Eastwood — whom I’ve called “a model of inconsistency” — delivers here. Sully was not masterful in its execution (“mastery” is a high bar to pass for me), but the dramatic story worked well. And something I wasn’t expecting: it touched me. Not deeply to my very core, but nonetheless it touched me.
One more thing I learned during the end credits — which you’ll want to stick around for, as they feature footage of the real Sully: Eastwood composed the theme music. Surprised me there — I didn’t know he was a musician too! Say what you will about his ridiculous political involvements (the empty chair episode, e.g.), he is one of the most prolific entertainers of all time. 8/10
Comparison Notes (both recommended): Flight, Captain Phillips