Sully11 Sep 2016
Clint Eastwood is a great director. Perhaps one of America’s best directors. There is no doubt that a man who can take a story like the water landing of US Airwarys Flight 1549 and make an entertaining movie out of it has talent and experienced honed over decades in the industry. In fact, you need look no further than Unforgettable to truly see how talented Clint Eastwood is. Here in Sully the telling, and re-telling, of the same few minutes of action is somehow neither repetitive nor boring. The main story is told with verve each time. Eastwood is great at scenes, less so at moments. The major scenes in the plane and in the interrogation rooms largely succeed. The moments with Sully and his wife and flashbacks to his youth succeed much less.
But there’s something about this film that bothered me throughout: the role of the “villian” NTSB, unions and government. Films need tension, of course. But something about painting the NTSB, the government and unions as foes for this stoic hero seems ill-fitting. Then I remember that Clint Eastwood, in 2012, talked to an empty chair representing Obama at the Republican National Convention and everything makes sense again.
Eastwood is also, almost in a sickening way, bent on putting himself at the center of his recent films. His self-conception - a laconic, strong-willed, chisel-jawed, well mannered American man with a measured mustache - describes Eastwood more than it describes the real Sully. (The real Sully went on to fight for pilot’s welfare after attaining national prominence, arguing for better union rights and pay.) Also, going running in Times Square (which no New Yorker or visitor to New York ever does) and seeing Gran Torino posters plastered everywhere came off a bit thirsty in terms of Eastwood trying to interject himself into the film. I suppose much like the Americans who wish to “Make America Great Again”, Eastwood is having a hard time imagining an America without him at the center.