Clint Eastwood is no doubt riding high off the success of airplane pilot true-life drama Sully, and he’s ready for his next biopic. Today, he announced he would be tackling the story of Jessica Buchanan, the aid worker who was abducted in Somalia in October 2011.
Even by the standards of a biopic about an incredibly famous man at the center of an incredibly famous real-life event there isn’t a ton of suspense in Sully. Everyone who was alive and conscious on January 15, 2009 remembers what happened that day, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after the plane was struck by birds during takeoff.(I certainly do; I’d just arrived at my condo for the Sundance Film Festival and watched the rescue efforts unfold on live television.)
If you’re looking to cast an actor as a humble, honorable American hero in your movie, Tom Hanks is your man. He’s the kind of good guy the whole family can get behind, and who will make your dad tear up at the movies. And now he’s playing that role again, this time in pilot’s gear.
Well that was pretty quick. Just last week we learned of Clint Eastwood’s plan to direct a film based on pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, who heroically maneuvered an emergency landing when US Airways flight 1549 almost crashed. The director has already found his leading man, as Tom Hanks will reportedly to play Sully in what sounds like the most “movie for your dad” movie to ever exist.
On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 was struck by a flock of geese during takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. The plane’s captain, Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, successfully brought the plane down in the Hudson River, where all 155 passengers and crew members were evacuated and survived. It was an incredible story, one that played out in real time on the news; I vividly remember being at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and watching the whole rescue play out on television.
Clint Eastwood’s been a movie star for the better part of half a century, but coming off the shocking success of American Sniper, the biggest domestic hit of 2014, he’s in a rare position of power, even for him. Suddenly, at age of 84, Eastwood’s a hot Hollywood commodity again. He could do anything he wants! A sequel to In the Line of Fire? Sure, why not. A new Dirty Harry? Absolutely! Star in Magic Mike XXXL? Okay, maybe not that. That would be weird. But just about anything else is up for grabs.
There are moments that define a nation. Moments that show us the kind of Americans we really are. Today, we’ve brought shame on our great nation: Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has surpassed The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy as the highest-grossing film of 2014. How did we let this happen? How did we let a robot baby with an uncanny valley where its face should be defeat Katniss Everdeen and Baby Groot? How?
Like most things these days, it all comes back to Clint Eastwood. ‘American Sniper’ reigns supreme at the box office, and the only movie that would seem to have a fighting chance of dislodging it from the top spot this weekend—the Jennifer Lopez thriller ‘The Boy Next Door’—owes its very existence to the movie that Eastwood was finishing up when he got cast as “Dirty” Harry Callahan. That’d be ‘Play Misty for Me,’ which has earned its place in cinema history as the answer to a trivia question—What was two-time Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood’s first movie as a director?—but is also one of the most influential American movies of the 1970s; the primal scene of an endlessly replenishing sub-genre of sexy stalker movies.
‘American Sniper’ had a record-shattering weekend at the box office, grossing an astounding $105 million from Friday to Monday. It’s already the second biggest earner of Clint Eastwood’s entire career after ‘Gran Torino,’ and with six Academy Award nominations (and great word-of-mouth) behind it, it’s posed to become his biggest hit ever.
I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.