Sully ★★½

Even though Eastwood is like 300 years old now it's kind of amazing that his directing chops are still the best thing about his films, which are so flawed in so many other areas. But maybe he's too senile to recognize how bad the screenplays he shoots are. I mean, he handed directing reigns over to his assistant for TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, but that was maybe the worst script produced by a major studio in the last decade. Perhaps it's his producing skills that are waning with age.

SULLY is written by some guy named Todd Komarnicki and it reminded me of every trash-can "pass" I tossed off when I was a script reader. The only thing anyone talks about is the plane crash and all subtext is right there in the text, as if nobody is capable of understanding character or motivation unless everything is spoken in the dialogue. "You left out the human factor!" At least Hanks can deliver this without being too heavy-handed but still, the hearing sequence is laughable and Anna Gunn's turnaround is so weirdly hagiographic.

Also, poor Laura Linney gets the Peter Berg treatment of wife-at-home-on-the-phone, while Michael Rapaport and Jerry Ferrara (!) show up for 2-line cameos. The whole thing is weirdly cast, poorly written, and structured like it didn't know how to make A FUCKING PLANE CRASH ON THE HUDSON RIVER dramatic.

However -- the crash sequences themselves are terrific. Eastwood knows just how much detail to give to minor moments, minor characters, and the pacing of how shots move and get cut together for emotional effect. Zemeckis still did this better with FLIGHT but the money shots here are still pretty strong; F/X work is flawless and I also dug the understated sound design and score. It's just crazy that so much visual and technical skill went into telling such a flat, obvious story about how computer simulations never tell the Real Story - Where The Men Are There And Know What Really Happened.

For his next film, Eastwood seems to be continuing down the path of who-the-hell-cares-about-the-script, as THE 15:17 TO PARIS is written by someone with no previous screenwriting credits at all, who's still working as a PA. Maybe the film after that, when he's 90, will be written by a gerbil.

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