Gold

Image: Black Bear Pictures

2016 gave us some great based-on-true-event films, and 2017 looks set to continue that trend. Built loosely around the mining scandal that befell Bre-X in 1993, Gold brings adventure, crime, and suspense to the big screen once more.

Prospector Kenny Wells’ (Matthew McConaughey) business is just like his liquor, on the rocks. Having taken over his late father’s company, Wells has been unable to land a big contract and he grasps at his last available straw. Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) is a geologist living in Indonesia. When Acosta is approached by Wells to find the gold the geologist was once so sure exists beneath the jungle, a little persuasion is required. Soon enough, they’re off, obtaining funding (though only enough to scrape through by the skin of their teeth), workers, and core samples; but they find nothing. Just as all hope seems lost, what should appear? Gold.

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Hacksaw Ridge

Image: Cross Creek Pictures

This is not a movie. This is a retelling. A recount of the events that occurred during the World War II Battle of Okinawa, and of the service of one man in particular.

Virginian boy, Desmond T. Doss, like many other young men at the time, enlisted in the American Army to serve during the second war to end all wars. The reason Doss was different from those he served alone side, was his refusal to bear arms. Due to Doss’ beliefs, he did not carry a weapon for the duration of his time in the army. Instead, he served as a medic.

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Deepwater Horizon

Image: Summit Entertainment

The Deepwater Horizon was an offshore oil drilling rig owned by Transocean and leased to BP. On April 20, 2010, a blowout occurred causing an explosion and an inextinguishable fire on the Horizon. Two days later the Horizon sank, leaving behind an open oil well which resulted in the largest oil spill that has occurred in U.S. waters.

Hearing about these events on the news are bad enough, but for many it can be difficult to comprehend the enormity of such an occurrence. Seeing them adapted to film can help to bring a clearer understanding of what the crew of the Deepwater Horizon went through.

A recording of a statement given by Mike Williams, the Chief Electronics Technician, opens this movie. The sound but lack of visuals on the screen make you pay closer attention to the words of Mr Williams, this bringing to the forefront of your mind that this isn’t just a movie. This is a dramatisation of a real situation that real people went through only 6 years ago.

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Sully

Image: Warner Bros.

155.

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 suffered dual engine failure due to a bird strike. Thanks to the skill and quick thinking of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the plane was able to perform a forced water landing. There were no casualties. All 155 souls on board survived.

While the public and the media hailed Captain Sully as a hero, an investigation was underway to assess whether the decision to land on the Hudson River had been the right one.

Right from the first seconds, this film is a masterpiece. Director Clint Eastwood has you tensed on the edge of your seat as you watch the events unfold.

The quiet of the opening scene is one of the few times I found a lack of musical score to not be a hindrance; it really allows the viewer to focus and try to process the magnitude of what they’re seeing.

Both Tom Hanks (as Sully) and Aaron Eckhart (Co-Pilot Jeff Skiles) have their considerable talents on display in this film. Skiles’ stead-fast support of his captain during the investigation is admirable to say the least.

There was one moment in particular for me when Tom Hanks reaffirmed his status as a brilliant actor. It has been a long time since an actor’s performance has nearly brought me to tears, rather than the story itself. Having been the last one off the aircraft, to the best of his knowledge, and rescued from the waters of the Hudson River, the captain requests a count, saying “155, that’s my number”. The palpable relief when Captain Sullenberger finds out that everyone on his flight lived? I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

The fear that must have been felt by passengers and crew alike as they heard the Captain’s instruction to “brace for impact” is simply unimaginable to me. And yet, throughout the decent, the focus of the captain and co-pilot and the constant mantra of the cabin crew to passengers, instructing them “heads down, stay down. Brace, brace, brace,” was right there, re-enacted for us by Eastwood, Hanks, Eckhart, and others. My words simply do not do it justice. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.