Written by: Todd Komarnicki, Chesley Sullenberger (Memoirs)
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
Running Time: 95 minutes
Based on the true story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who completed an emergency landing of US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson river.
On a gloomy January morning in LaGuardia, 2009, Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) along with first officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) boarded US Air flight 1549 to fly 155 passengers to Charlotte. It was a regular day at work for the two pilots until a flock of Geese decided to cross paths with the plane.
The main engine suffered a lethal blow, followed by failure of the second engine moments later. There wasn’t enough altitude to successfully return to the nearest airport. Captain Sullenberger, nicknamed Sully, acted on his gut and decided to land the plane smack in the middle of the Hudson river; he saved the life of every soul on board.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened a full-fledged investigation to determine whether or not the incident could have been avoided by just returning to the nearest airport. Sully, overwhelmed with the overnight hero status, battles the NTSB and his conscience simultaneously; was he a hero for what he did or was his experience spanning four decades going to be nullified due to this one incident?
Brace For Impact
86-year old Clint Eastwood is like the finest wine available. With each film, his legendary stature grows. He has taken re-defining real-life heroes as a personal project. American Sniper was first, and now this.
The movie is concise and penetrating at the same time – a combination that even veterans in the industry find hard to undertake. The rapidity of the incident doesn’t leave much for a feature length film. Hence writer Todd Komarnicki does an admirable job in bracketing the actual incident with scenes of investigation, moral encounters and heroism.
The film wastes little to no time with the melodrama associated with such cases. It ticks all the right boxes and even gives chilling references to the actual incident.
What stands out is how the plot pans out. Instead of using a standard approach to depict the incident and show the aftermaths, Eastwood relies on connecting the incident to flashbacks and random visions Sully has.
The technical team has done a stunning job with visuals of the winter setting in New York and the CGI. It’s incredible when VFX teams are employed to enhance the movie rather than make the movie about them. There was a lot of hype surrounding the fact that Eastwood used IMAX cameras. It’s reassuring to know that they were in the right hands.
The soundtrack is very similar to most of Eastwood’s films – nothing exemplary but it does the job. He himself provides the title track.
The Cabin Crew
One can’t help but admire Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, The Green Mile) for the class act that he is. He slots into any character so perfectly, it’s almost unbelievable. He too has been busy bringing unsung heroes to the big screen, with Captain Philipps and Bridge Of Spies being the most recent. But his portrayal of Captain Sullenberger steps it up a notch with the sort of professionalism his protagonist had in piloting the aircraft.
Aaron Eckhart’s (Thank You For Smoking, Olympus Has Fallen) character was a refreshing aspect of the movie. He serves as Jeff Skiles – the brave co-pilot and the comic relief in the film. These factors aside, it’s really good to see him take on a quality project after a while.
The rest of cast are blink-and-misses, all barring the NTSB trio and Mrs. Sullenberger, the latter played by an edgy Laura Linney (The Truman Show, Mystic River). The NTSB trio consisting of Mike O’Malley (Eat Pray Love, Concussion), Jamey Sheridan (Spotlight, Game Change) & Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad, Red State) did their parts well.
Entourage fans: watch out for Turtle. 😉
All In All
Sully is a testament to the brilliance of Clint Eastwood. The film is as concise as it is engaging, despite it lacking an antagonist – the closest to it being the NTSB investigators. It is a dazzling display of the human factors involved with acts of valor. The Eastwood-Hanks duo is exceptional as they cruise through the film in autopilot. After all Eastwood has been doing this for longer than the lifetimes of most of his audience.
Watch It If You’re: In the mood for an exciting true story OR a fan of Eastwood/Hanks.