The surrounding characters are fine in their own ways. Most notably Eckhart (playing the co-pilot Skiles) who has solid chemistry with Hanks and they both seem to work well off of each other. Linney is limited in her role as the wife of Hanks. We never really get to see her interact with anyone besides over the phone, which somewhat takes us away from her character. Not that that is a bad thing. It just limits us to what we get of her and the feelings of what her character is going through. However, this film is about Sully and how he deals with the aftermath of this event. Everyone else is just along for the ride.
What I really enjoyed about this film is that Eastwood and Komarnicki give us different scenarios of what could have happened instead of the emergency water landing. Played back through visions and dreams, we get to experience with Sully and see how he is coping with what could have happened during that testing flight. I think that is what is the most important here to analyze. Sully seems to be struggling with the idea of “did I screw up even though everyone survived?” or “did I make the right call?”. Even though everyone is safe and no lives were lost, the media storm and the FAA push Sully into thinking that he caused this. That is where this film is at its strongest and most effective.
Eastwood re-teams with his longtime cinematographer, Tom Stern, to create a sense of unease and often times loneliness within the frame. Hanks often seems to be shot alone, which makes sense for his character. He at times is alone in his decision making and even though various characters have his back throughout the film, he is the one who will ultimately be judged. During the crash scene, Stern and Eastwood are able to put us in an atmosphere of a cold and slow panic. This event did happen in January and it is certainly felt when watching it. You can feel the cold and panic throughout the various passengers, who have no idea what to do as the plane slowly starts to sink into the freezing cold water. Great job on both of their ends.
There were a couple of things in the film that I did have problems with though. There is the character of an Air Traffic Controller that seems to be very forced and has questionable actions that kind of come out of nowhere. The whole sequence of his character took me out of the film. I think it could have been more effective had we heard him and not seen him. Another thing that I seemed to be struggling with was that I kept wanting the film to take that extra step and it just didn’t. It does kind of end abruptly leaving you wondering if they had more scenes that were just taken out. There are weak moments in the film with dialogue and certain side characters (again with the Air Traffic Controller), which may have kept it from taking that extra step for me. The overall script often at times can seem to be very basic and predictable which can hold the audience back of seeing something great. What I am saying is that since you already know what happens, it can take away from the overall feeling of suspense of what is going to happen.
Bottom Line: Is this Oscar worthy? Probably not. But, Eastwood and his team are able to able to create an overall solid film that I think most would enjoy.