Review: Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (2016)

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“Everything is unprecedented until it happens for the first time.”
– Chesley “Sully” Sullengerger

SYNOPSIS: The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight’s passengers and crew. – via IMDB

So chilling around the other day, I decided it was time to watch this. Obviously I know the story, but not in too much depth or anything like that, so figured this would be a good yardstick. Plus, Tom Hanks. I think he’s fantastic and would watch him in anything.

I didn’t think Sully was the greatest movie ever, but I did think that what Captain Sullenberger did that day was truly amazing. As the movie points out, you only ever see bad news nowadays, so to see a success story is always nice. Tom Hanks was excellent, as always, and was well worth watching. Aaron Eckhart, too, was solid and played well alongside Hanks. Comparing the actual photos at the end of the movie to what Eastwood delivered, too, is good, because it looked exactly like what had happened.

Sully is a quick watch, and so never overstays its welcome. It tells the story and gets you involved with the investigation into that fateful flight, and it is interesting to see how the investigation was going, and how it ultimately turned around. I don’t necessarily know if I will ever go back to watch Sully, but it was a decent watch with a strong cast and was done well.

Rapid Review: American Sniper (2014)

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“I just want to get the bad guys, but if I can’t see them I can’t shoot them.”
– Chris Kyle

SYNOPSIS: Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8I am so glad to finally have seen this. I love a good war film, I do, and I was unaware when I started watching this that it was a Clint Eastwood movie, though it certainly had that look and feel. Anyway, I was entertained and drawn in from the off, and American Sniper offers a great character study of Chris Kyle, though the supporting characters do get left behind and are not fleshed out nearly as nicely as the lead. At any rate, Bradley Cooper did an awesome job realising Chris Kyle, and he was very well cast. He was charming, entertaining, a little too dedicated to country, and loyal. Watching the tours he went through were rough, and it was interesting to see how everyone seemed to be getting affected except him – until you put him back in a normal situation. He just couldn’t cope properly. His character development was something else, seeing him being the cowboy, with a crazy girlfriend and a super simplified life, and how he decided he needed something more, and how that ultimately changed so much about him. There was some humour in the film, but not overkill, and it was used at the appropriate times. I was a particular fan of the distinction Kyle made between rednecks and Texans. I am still chortling over it. Sienna Miller was also very good, though she was not used as much as she could have been, and eventually it was almost as though she was only there to harp on the fact that he had not completely returned from the war. I liked how there was no music in the beginning before Kyle started talking, and though it was disconcerting, the way there was no music throughout the end credits either was actually very fitting for the movie. The plot progression was not as smooth as it could have been as some places certainly did feel rushed, but it isn’t done in a way that makes the movie feel like a waste. There was not one minute that progressed that didn’t have me completely engrossed, so I am very happy to say that it is well worth the wait to see, especially if you are a fan of war movies. American Sniper is shot carefully and does not try anything revolutionary, but that is not an issue. By the books and safe, it tells the story of Kyle. The focus is on Kyle, and the movie tells his story and it is done carefully, deliberately, and with respect. It isn’t my favourite war film of all time, and it definitely isn’t the best of the genre, but it is a solid entry and a very good watch.

Review: Mystic River (2003)

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“Sometimes I think, I think all three of us got in that car…”
– Sean Devine

Three boyhood friends encounter a dreadful turn of events when two hebephiles pick one of them up. Dave Boyle (Cameron Bowen) never stood a chance, and Jimmy Markum (Jason Kelly) and Sean Devine (Connor Paolo) are left to watch their friend being taken away while under the assumption that he was picked up by cops. Their fathers have a fit and soon everyone is looking for Dave. Dave manages to escape from the two men after days of abuse and return home. Their childhoods have been changed forever.

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“I guess I don’t know my own strength.” – Young Dave

Twenty five years later they have each moved on with their lives in different directions. Jimmy (Sean Penn) quit the criminal life and owns a little store and has a wife and three daughters, Sean (Kevin Bacon) is a detective with the Massachusetts State Police with a wife who has run off and Dave (Tim Robbins) is a regular blue-collar Joe with a son and a wife. Jimmy has a nineteen-year-old daughter named Katie (Emmy Rossum) who plans to run off with her boyfriend Brendan Harris (Tom Guiry) and get married in Las Vegas, though Jimmy has no inkling of this. However, those plans stop dead in their tracks when Katie goes out with her friends one night for a final party and is brutally murdered on the way home. Just like that, it seems that the three parted friends will come together again.

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“I know in my soul I contributed to your death.” – Jimmy Markum

Jimmy is crushed to learn that his little girl was murdered. Sean feels for his friend when he sees the man, though pleads with him to keep his in-laws and all those criminals out of it so that he can conduct his investigation without hassles. Sean and his partner Whitey Powers (Laurence Fishburne) track down every available lead to bring justice to Katie. Sean, on the other hand, has put the Savage brothers on the lookout, with Val (Kevin Chapman) in the lead. His wife, Katie’s stepmother Annabeth (Laura Linney) knows that her husband may need to exact revenge on whoever screwed up his daughter’s life. On the other hand, Dave’s marriage strains when he returns home the night of Katie’s murder covered in blood and spinning a flimsy story of having retaliated when a mugger attempted to attack him, and his wife Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) soon decides that Dave must have killed the young girl. She is terrified, and soon the investigation touches onto her husband, and her paranoia goes into overdrive.

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“How long till you catch my daughter’s killer? I need to know.” – Jimmy Markum

What happened to Katie Markum that night? Who killed her? Is Dave in any way connected to the gruesome events of that night? Will Jimmy be able to hold his things together? What will the investigation turn up? Will Jimmy and his family ever recover? Will Sean bring them peace of mind? What will Celeste do about Dave?

An 8/10 for Mystic River. I was really impressed with how loyal the movie remained to the book. Naturally, there were a few small changes, but nothing that actually detracted from the story or the progression and development. I thought it had an excellent cast that manages to capture and portray the characters almost exactly as you would perceive them to be from the books. Sean Penn was the embodiment of Jimmy Marcus (books, Markum in the film), and Kevin Bacon completely held down the part of embittered cop who is separated from his wife and on a mission. All in all it came together well – the pacing was right, I enjoyed the camerawork, the performances very good, though I did find the music to be a bit strange, like something from a much older movie altogether. I would recommend this film, not only to readers, but to anyone that enjoys a good and solid drama. Clint Eastwood did a damn fine job of bringing this depiction of Mystic River to the fore, and is incredibly impressive.