Friday, June 9, 2017

Tom Hanks Playhouse

Inferno (2016): adapted by David Koepp from the novel by Dan Brown; directed by Ron Howard; starring Tom Hanks (Professor Robert Langdon), Felicity Jones (Sienna Brooks), Omar Sy (Bouchard), Irrfan Khan (Harry Sims), Ben Foster (Zobrist), and Sidse Babett Knudsen (Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey): I actually think this is the best of the Tom Hanks/Ron Howard/Dan Brown movies. Tom Hanks's Robert Langdon is tired and bleary for much of the film (for good reason). The historical clues are almost perfunctory, as if the film-makers finally admitted that the whole point of these things, like a James Bond movie, is the globe-trotting scenery. 

There's a decent twist at the two-thirds mark, the supporting cast is all solid, and Ben Foster finally gets cast correctly, as a squirmy, passive-aggressive billionaire who wants to kill 50% of humanity. Director Ron Howard even presents us with a couple of drug-induced visions for Langdon that are creepy enough to suggest that a Ron Howard-helmed H.P. Lovecraft movie wouldn't have been the botch that such a pairing initially suggested. A perfectly good time-filler. Recommended.

Sully (2016): adapted from the book by Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow by Todd Komarnicki; directed by Clint Eastwood; starring Tom Hanks (Sully), and Aaron Eckhart (Skiles): "Sully" Sullenberger successfully landed a passenger jet on the Hudson River in January 2009. This film is excellent when it sticks to the landing and much less so when the screenplay tries to grind some ideological axe about how awful bureaucracies and government are, courtesy I assume of right-wing brain-trauma survivor Clint Eastwood. 

The National Travel Safety Board investigation (nay, witch hunt) of Sully after the landing is pretty much entirely invented. It doesn't even make much sense: wouldn't the owner and/or manufacturer of the airplane want to roast Sully if anyone, given that the financial loss would be suffered there? Well, no, I guess, because Corporations Are People Too, and good people at that. Good, good people. Bad, bad bureaucrats trying to protect us. Bad! Tom Hanks is fine, as usual, and the landing sequence is tense and thrilling. All the other stuff is right-wing wankery. Lightly recommended.

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