Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
Perhaps it took an older director, and one with the conservative impulses of Clint Eastwood, to make the story of Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger into a movie about the heroism of dutifulness. Though “Sully” is set in Manhattan and features a few big effects sequences, it has the modesty and compactness of a chamber drama. Doubtless, Todd Komarnicki’s screenplay (based on Sullenberger’s book) contains its share of hackneyed elements, including some rather facile stuff set among the passengers of Sully’s plane; but the picture’s themes are so clearly presented, and its pacing so insistent, that it succeeds by dint of efficiency. “Sully” is never boring, even when it’s stuck in boardrooms. The key to the movie’s peculiar air is lead actor Tom Hanks. His Sullenberger has the energized placidity of an ER surgeon — a placidity edged with gravity and alertness. As Sully is shuttled from room to room, and repeatedly asked to explain his in-air actions, Hanks lets you feel rather than see the tenuousness of his composure. It’s a subtly expressive performance. (Aaron Eckhart, as Sully’s co-pilot, provides Hanks with a suitable foil; his anxiousness is all on the surface.) Cannily structured so that the backstory falls into place when it’s needed to elucidate the post-flight narrative, “Sully” culminates with a safety-board hearing in which man is indicted by model. It’s contrived, like a courtroom drama, but by that point the story and characters have inertia. It’s hard not to root for Sully’s vindication.