Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

Movie review: Eastwood, Hanks soar with ‘Sully’

Warner Bros.

“Sully” (PG-13) 3 1/2 stars (out of 4)

Clint Eastwood masterfully tells the story of the “Miracle on the Hudson” and it’s surprising aftermath in “Sully,” a compelling drama  that chronicles the events surrounding Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s daring and unprecedented landing of an A320 airbus on the Hudson River in New York City on Jan. 15, 2009.

“Sully,” naturally, documents in detail the events of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on that fateful day in 2009, when shortly after takeoff Sully (Tom Hanks) and First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) a bird strike renders both engines in their jet useless. With no engine thrust to commandeer the plane back to its point of origin at LaGuardia Airport or make an emergency landing at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, Sully makes the quick determination that landing on the Hudson River is the best if not only option.

People, of course, got to know Sully through his many appearances in the media following the miracle landing, which saved all 155 passengers and crew on board. Lost in whirlwind of press, however,  was the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the incident that threatened to end the careers of Sully and his first officer on the flight.

Interview: Aaron Eckhart talks “Sully”

Though hailed as heroes by the general public, the NTSB’s reaction is quite different, as its  computer analyses and flight simulations suggested that Sully and Skiles could flown the plane back at La Guardia Airport or at the very least, could have landed at Teterboro. Even more damning, the NTSB claimed that at least part of the left engine on the plane was functional and would given the A320 with enough thrust to land at either airport.

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Hanks, whose career has been defined by good guy roles, is perfectly suited to play the hero in “Sully,” as he nails the quite demeanor and humility of the famed pilot who maintains a respect for the NTSB despite its intense scrutiny of the events surround the splash landing.


Listen to Tim’s review of “Sully” with Tom Barnard, Michele Tafoya and the KQ92 Morning Show crew at 13:30 in.

Eckhart is also terrific as Skiles, giving a face and voice to the pilot who, despite being relegated to the background as Sully captured most of the media’s attention, played a pivotal role in the landing of the plane on the Hudson. Laura Linney also gives a memorable performance in a supporting role as Sully’s wife and voice of reason as the pilot begins to question his actions in the face of adversity.

Eastwood, however, is the true star of “Sully.” He recreates the crippled Flight 1549 with gripping suspense (amazing, considering we all know the outcome), and his subtle direction defines the inspirational tone of the film, which ultimately gives it its emotional lift. Also chronicling the work of the first responders (many people from the real event recreated their roles for the film), “Sully” displays the work of everyday people at their finest. Be sure to stick around for the end credits of the film, as Eastwood includes emotional footage that punctuates the 90 minutes that precedes it.

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Interview: Aaron Eckhart says he’s honored to co-pilot ‘Sully’

Warner Bros.Even though he’s trained to fly himself, acclaimed actor Aaron Eckhart said he developed an even greater respect for pilots after co-navigating the true-life drama “Sully.”

The film, which opens in theaters and on IMAX theaters nationwide on Friday, chronicles Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s and First Officer Jeff Skiles’ “Miracle on the Hudson” water landing, as well as the jarring aftermath as the pilots’ decision-making during the crisis comes into question.

The thing Eckhart was most impressed with after meeting and consulting with Sullenberger and Skiles — whom he plays in the film — is that despite the miraculous landing, the men look on the 2009 events that ended in the Hudson River in New York City as a responsibility of the job and not an act of heroism.

“Sully and Jeff said, ‘Hey, that’s what we do for our job. We were trained and have 20,000 hours in the air. This is why we have checklists and procedures,” Eckhart said in a recent phone conversation from Los Angeles. “They just think of it as part of their job and don’t look at themselves as heroes. Sully knew because of his work that a plane at this weight is going to glide this far at this air speed and he was looking out for that.”

Having spent time in the cockpit over the years, Eckhart said the pilots’ mindset resonated with him while making the film.

“I pilot a little bit myself, and I know that I need to be looking for alternate routes, highways or waterways in case I have a problem in the air. It’s second n

ature to these guys,” Eckhart, 48, said. “All the pilots I’ve talked to after making this movie, they all think it’s part of the procedure of being a pilot. It’s their job and they all could have done it.”

Directed by legendary filmmaker Clint Eastwood, “Sully” naturally presents the intense moments in the cockpit and cabin of United Airlines Flight 1549 on Jan. 15, 2009, and the blistering scrutiny Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and Skiles (Eckhart) faced in front of the National Transportation Safety Board during the investigation into what went wrong with the plane.

From the vantage point of Sullenberger and Skiles, a bird strike took out both engines of the A320 aircraft they were piloting upon takeoff and their only option was a forced water landing on the Hudson River.

But to the NTSB, computer analyses and flight simulations suggested that they could flown the plane back to the point of departure at La Guardia Airport in New York City, or at the very least, could have landed at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Further complicating matters, the NTSB claimed during the investigation that at least part of the left engine on the plane was functional, which ultimately would provided the plane with enough thrust to land at either airport.

In addition to the title character, “Sully” shines a light on Skiles and several of the first responders that saved all 155 passengers and crew during the fateful, frigid day on the Hudson in 2009. The interesting thing is, most people associate the “Miracle on the Hudson” with Sullenberger, while the efforts of Skiles — who commandeered the takeoff of Flight 1549 — have largely been left in the background. As little known as Skiles is in comparison to Sullenberger, he is, after all, the person who knows the most about what happened on the flight, as the other pilot in the cockpit.

“Jeff and I talked about this, and he said he realized that there has to be a face to the story — that the media is going to pick out a hero and Sully was that guy,” Eckhart said. “Sully was the captain of the flight and Jeff came to terms with that and receded into the background. They were thrust into the spotlight so aggressively that one had to take that lead role. I don’t know what Jeff’s real feelings are about it, but he and Sully are still good friends today.”

No matter who took the lead, there’s no question, as audiences will discover, that Sullenberger and Skiles were both in the hot seat during the NTSB investigation and eventual hearing by the agency, which illustrated the viability of the alternate scenarios to landing in the Hudson.

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And while the treatment of the pilots will appear harsh to audience members — in stark contrast to the media adulation they received in the days and months after the landing — Eckhart said it’s the NTSB’s job to scrutinize, and the pilots, as well as he and Hanks, accept and respect the process as an absolute necessity.

“There was a lot on the line with what they did. You’re talking about a water landing, which in itself is an improbability, and then you’re talking about saving everybody’s lives,” Eckhart observed. “In the hearing, you find out that they could lose their commercial licenses, lose their pensions and lose their reputations. Everybody that has seen the film so far has been maddened by this NTSB hearing, but that’s what it’s there for. It’s the spine of the movie. It’s the drama. People think they know what they’re going to go see, but I think they are going to be pleasantly surprised that they’re going to see so much more.”

In the end, Eckhart added, “One hundred percent, Sully did not see the NTSB as adversarial. He said they’re doing their job. They’re a necessary part of keeping us safe.”

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Movie reviews: ‘Steve Jobs,’ ‘Crimson Peak,’ ‘Bridge of Spies’

Michael Fassbender in 'Steve Jobs' (photo -- Universal)

By Tim Lammers

“Steve Jobs” (R) 3 1/2 stars (out of 4)

Michael Fassbender gives one of the year’s best performances in the title role in “Steve Jobs,” a fascinating look into the complex mind of the Apple Computers genius. Foregoing the traditional biopic format, director Danny Boyle successfully opts to tell Jobs’ story in three thrilling acts, each taking place before product launches of the Macintosh Computer in 1984, the NeXT black box in 1988 and the iMac in 1998.

Unlike the previous Apple co-founder biopic — the 2013 Aston Kutcher bomb “Jobs” — “Steve Jobs” pulls no punches when illustrating the Jobs’ scornful behavior.  Some of the most notable scenes chronicle his ugly child support battle with his ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), the public lambasting of co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen, in a familiar feeling portrayal), and Macintosh co-designer Andy Hertzfeld (an excellent Michael Stuhlbarg); as well as an examination of his volatile relationship with Apple CEO John Sculley (the always great Jeff Daniels).

If it’s to be believed (Apple and Jobs’ widow have raised objections over the film), Jobs was hated by most everybody he worked with (the exception being his loyal marketing guru Joanna Hoffman, expertly played by Kate Winslet). The interesting thing is, Boyle, through Aaron Sorkin’s searing script, tries to examine just why Jobs was the way he was — mostly because he was a socially inept genius who simply thought about things on an entirely different plane.

There’s a telling line early in the film where Jobs tells Sculley something to the effect of, “I like you John — you’re the only one who sees the world the same way I do”; to which Sculley responds, “No one sees the world the way you do, Steve.” In a way, it tells us that Jobs’ prickish behavior wasn’t necessarily born out of hatred, but rather his frustration that people simply don’t understand him. There’s no question Steve Jobs was one of a kind, and so is this movie.

“Crimson Peak” (R) 2 1/2 stars (out of four)

Gifted filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro sadly falls short of delivering on his film’s promise with “Crimson Peak,” a beautifully constructed and admirably acted Gothic horror thriller that is hobbled by its predictable story-line.

Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) stars as Edith Cushing, an aspiring American Gothic romance novelist in the late 1800s who is swept off her feet by Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a charismatic British aristocrat. After marrying Thomas, Edith moves to her husband’s native England along with his suspicious sister, Lucille (a creepy Jessica Chastain) — only to discover their family’s mansion houses gruesome secrets, and there is no way to escape.

There’s no question Del Toro has an incredible handle in filmmaking, as he artfully brings back to life the types of settings and atmosphere that gave the Hammer horror films of the 1960s and ’70s a special brand of eeriness (plus, Edith Cushing’s surname is an obvious ode to late, great Hammer star Peter Cushing). While at its heart “Crimson Peak” is a haunted housed thriller (Del Toro’s ghosts are as creatively fashioned as anything you’ve seen in his previous thrillers), the script feels as vacant as the sprawling Sharpe mansion. True, the scenes with the specters of Edith’s, Thomas’ and Lucille’s haunted pasts are thrilling, but ultimately, the motivation of the siblings and their lurid back story come as no big surprise when they’re finally revealed.

Ultimately, “Crimson Peak” isn’t a bad movie; just a disappointing one that fails to meet its potential given the level of talent involved.

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“Bridge of Spies” (PG-13) 2 1/2 stars (out of four)

“Bridge of Spies” has almost everything you would hope for out of a Steven Spielberg film: It transports you back to an important set of events in U.S. history, while being beautifully photographed and having a cast of colorful, convincing characters, including an Oscar-worthy performance by Mark Rylance. The theater veteran’s performance is so strong in fact, that it can’t help but highlight the film’s glaring weakness, involving someone in the cast that you’d least expect.

Tom Hanks stars as James B. Donovan, an idealistic New York City attorney tasked by the government to represent Rudolf Abel (Rylance) after he is detained in the city and accused of being a spy at the height of the Cold War. Asked to go through the formalities for a quick and speedy resolution — effectively, to put on a show so that no accusations could be levied saying that Abel didn’t have fair representation — Donovan instead represents the alleged spy in earnest. It’s a move that ultimately saves Abel’s life, and makes him a valuable asset for trade when an American pilot is shot down during a spy mission over East Germany.

Spielberg effectively presents “Bridge of Spies” in two acts: first, as it concerns the trial, and second, the exchange of spies with the Soviets in East Germany. For those looking for an intense spy thriller, you’ll only get it in the second act, and the thrills are limited at best. Action-wise, “Bridge of Spies” only has one scene of note, when the American pilot’s plane is shot-down in the enemy’s air space.

While “Bridge of Spies” has several strengths, the biggest problem with the film, honestly, is its leading man, as Hanks’ umpteenth turn as the good guy is starting to wear dangerously thin. There’s no doubt that Hanks can act, it just at this point feels like he playing the same type of role over and over again. It would have been interesting to see him take on Rylance’s role, which is played with brilliant ambiguity. Instead, we get another film where it feels like Hanks is just reading lines. In the wake of “Bridge of Spies,” somebody needs to infiltrate Hanks’ management and urge that the Oscar-winning actor start taking more risks. His career will be all the better for it.