There’s an inherent challenge in creating films of real life events, especially when said real life events lasted for a total of just under four minutes. The trick becomes one of spinning out the story enough for a film without over padding it with filler. Thankfully, Eastwood’s economical 96 minute retelling of ‘The Miracle On The Hudson’ largely overcomes this thanks to a creatively non-linear story structure and an almost-to-the-exclusion-of-all-others focus on the story’s iconic figure: Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger.
As with Flight 1549, it’s in its leading man that the film finds its saviour, Hanks’ easy charisma and skill bringing the underpowered screenplay in for a successful landing. He manages to imbue Sully with the necessary professional nobility without ever making him seem more than just a good man doing the job he loves to the best of his abilities. The screenplay tries very hard to extort some supplementary drama from the subsequent crash investigation but in doing so just seems to unfairly portray the National Transportation Safety Board as vindictive, corrupt and incompetent.
Hanks is surrounded by a decent cast, but there’s little for them to do and almost all of them are upstaged by Aaron Eckhart’s (who’s clearly entered the method hairstyle era of his career *cough* “Bleed For This” *cough”) moustache.
Ultimately between them, Hanks and Eastwood do enough to elevate this above the Discovery Channel special it could so easily have become but it’s a strain to pull it out to 96 minutes and it shows, ironically enough, in a final, abrupt volte-face by the NTSB panel hearing which closes the movie.