| The story of Chesley Sullenberger, who became a hero after gliding his plane along the water in the Hudson River, saving all of the airplane flights 155 crew and passengers.
Even at age 86, Clint Eastwood can still direct the hell out of a film and get moviegoers’ emotions churning. This time it’s the true story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who, in January 2009, steered his jet to a miraculous landing on New York’s Hudson River after losing both engines in a bird strike. Surprisingly, this is the first film collaboration for Tom Hanks and director Clint Eastwood. Both have cinematic experience with true life stories and real people: Hanks most recently in Captain Phillips and Bridge of Spies; and Clint with American Sniper and J. Edgar. This one is the perfect fit as Hanks takes on a good man who takes pride in doing his job, and Clint brings to life a story that showcases the best of human nature.
The title role of Sully is, as previously mentioned, played by the brilliant Tom Hanks. Having already forged a golden career in playing a wide variety of American everymen, Hanks is the logical choice to play a real-life hero every bit as genuinely modest and unassuming as Sullenberger. In lesser hands, Sully, a grey-haired veteran flyer in his sixties, could have come across as a cardboard-thin caricature. Though Hanks finds the honourable heart of the role with his usual ease, he also keeps the viewer up close and personal with Sullenberger throughout. Aaron Eckhart plays co-pilot Jeff Skiles and has a couple of memorable scenes, and Laura Linney embraces the thankless role of telephone wife of Sully during the aftermath and hearings.
“This is the captain, brace for impact.”
The film’s special effects are top-notch in bringing multiple recreations of the crash to the screen. Some replay Sullenberger’s nightmare vision and some alternate “what if?” scenarios until, finally, we’re shown the definitive account at the end of the movie. These initial sequences are mostly viewed from the outside or cockpit of the plane, while the last provides a more intimate, interior look at the events and how they played out in the aircraft. This is a remarkable sequence, as Eastwood juggles the events on the plane with scenes of what was happening with the various first-responders before and during the event.
There are some strange problems with the film itself, because it jumps all over the place. It starts straight away with a nightmare from our hero. We see the timeline of events is post- incident, then eventually goes back to the beginning of the flight before Sully even steps foot on the plane. I wasn’t expecting the film to be structured this way, while it didn’t hurt the pacing, it still felt strange. If it was structured chronologically it would have done the story more justice, although comparisons with the movie ‘Flight’ would be noticeable. Which might be one of the reasons they structured it this way.
Clocking in at just an hour and a half, Sully is a good hero flick depicting the events of January 15th, 2009, because we learn everything we need to know in just that short space of time. Despite some of its flaws, nothing feels overdone or over dramatized and I walked out of the cinema feeling thoroughly satisfied with what Eastwood managed to do with this story.