Monthly Archives: September 2016

Movie Review: Sully

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: A story that everyone should hear.  Suffers slightly from poor direction.

Everyone likely remembers the events of January 15th, 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 emergency landed onto the Hudson River with 155 souls on board and all lived to tell the tale.  It was an amazing feat in so many different ways.  You have Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) deftly water landing a plane with no working engines.  You have the ferry pilots who raced to the scene to rescue the survivors.  You have the scuba teams.  You have the fire fighters.  You have the police.  You have the Red Cross.  All these disparate groups came together and worked tirelessly to save the stranded passengers and crew.  Very few cities in the world can pull off what New York did that day.  The people on that flight owe their lives to a combination of excellent infrastructure and even better first responders.

The world needs a hero, though, and that hero is Sully.  His name and likeness were plastered on every news show and late show for weeks.  His life is not at all atypical of most airline pilots.  Flew when he was young.  Flew during the war.  Made a career as an airline pilot.  His is a simple story of lifetime commitment and practice and nerves of steel under extraordinary circumstances.  Heroes don’t fall apart until after the crisis has passed.

If there is a bad guy in this film, it’s the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), US Airways, and Airbus who try to pin the water landing on human error.  US Airways and Airbus make sense.  They have a lot riding on proving that there’s nothing wrong with their craft.  The NTSB, however, doesn’t make much sense.  It makes me wonder if there were liberties taken in the portrayal of this governmental entity or if they really do take that much guidance from the airlines and manufacturers.

The only real issue with the film is one of flow.  Sully’s younger years are thrown in as kind of an afterthought and they don’t really add to the movie except to show that he’s been flying planes for a really long time.  They show the landing multiple times to little effect.  Then there’s the weird plan crash dream that gets repeated too.  They’re all odd choices.

Despite the flow issues, this is still a movie that is well worth watching if you don’t know the whole story of the Miracle on the Hudson and its aftermath.  It’s got Tom Hanks in it so you at least know you’re going to be treated to good acting.  As a plus, Aaron Eckhart kind of steals the show in the scenes he’s in and he seems to work well with Tom Hanks.  I’d like to see the two of them do another movie together.

Movie Review: Hell Or High Water

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Bottom Line: Two buddy movies in one.  Great dialogue.  Banks suck.

“Hell or High Water” is a buddy movie.  In fact, it’s two buddy movies.  You have the two brothers who are bank robbers and you have the two Texas Rangers hot on the robbers’ trail.  All of this is set in the backdrop of rural Texas where foreclosures are rampant and banks prey upon the elderly in schemes to get their land.  Really, this film could have been shot in any rural community in any state, but Texas has one thing going for it that make it the correct choice; it contains Texans.

The bank robber brothers are Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine) Howard.  Tanner is a career criminal and Toby is of the quietly desperate persuasion who turns to crime to pay for his recently dead mother’s land before the bank forecloses on it and the oil it hides, but also so he can provide a sense of safety and security for his two estranged children by giving them the deed to said oil.  Yes, they rob banks, but much of the film actually takes place in cars or in diners or on their mother’s land as the two brothers talk through life.

The Texas Rangers are Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham).  Hamilton is near retirement and Parker is his long suffering partner.  They pursue the Howards with a sort of quiet determination.  This is what real police work looks like.  They go from bank to bank looking for clues and patterns and then just sit in restaurants and hotel rooms waiting for the robbers’ next move, eventually trying to be a step ahead before that move occurs.

This movie is what I call a talkie.  Yes, banks get robbed, cars are chased, and violence ensues, but those are just tiny pieces in a story that is only marginally about crime and law and order.  Instead it’s about relationships and trust and loyalty.  Both the cops and the robbers in this film exhibit all of those characteristics and the line between them is only what life has dropped on each.  All of this plays out with some terrific dialogue.  A talkie.  One well worth your attention.