#1 movie, weekend of 9/9-9/11/16
What it is: Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort, telling the true story of pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) successfully navigating an emergency landing on New York’s Hudson River and then going through an inquiry into his conduct.
The obvious issue with this movie is that its central conflict, the question of whether or not Sully handled the “Miracle on the Hudson” the correct way, isn’t really much of a conflict at all. He did. Hanks threads his performance with nervousness and self-doubt early on but we all know this movie isn’t going to turn into a takedown or end with some kind of Unbreakable-style twist.
That being said, the movie is somehow still pretty gripping and enjoyable anyway, even outside of the excellent crash (sorry, “water landing”) sequences. They actually pull a pretty perverse trick at the end: When a committee convened to review Sully’s actions watches simulations of other courses of action he could’ve taken (the simulations themselves looking like Sully as filmed on a $20 budget), you end up rooting for the simulated planes to crash so that our hero can be vindicated.
Also (and this is a bit of a spoiler, in the sense that the scenes I’m about to mention work better if you don’t know about them in advance), the movie incorporates a few fantasy sequences depicting the carnage that could’ve occurred if Sully had messed up. Given how addicted big-budget blockbusters have become to 9/11-reminiscent orgies of urban destruction (Suicide Squad being the most recent example), it’s kind of funny that this movie indulges in that stuff too, since the whole point is that it’s based on a true story in which such things didn’t happen.