Backed by a tremendous performance from actor Tom Hanks and the steady hands of director Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven and American Sniper); Sully is a moving tribute to an everyday hero on that cold January day.
Is there anything that Mr. Hanks can’t make great in Hollywood? He’s the male form of Meryl Streep, as he incarnates every one of his performances like clockwork. From Sam Baldwin to Forest Gump to Captain John H. Miller to Michael Sullivan, Sr. to Charlie Wilson to Captain Richard Phillips to Walt Disney and now to Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Hanks is an exceptional actor who has matured overtime. His performances can be raw and nerve-racking, to calm and sweet.
In his newest incarnation, Hanks plays Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger a pilot who successfully executed an emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. After roughly 100 seconds in the air from New York City's LaGuardia Airport, Canadian geese strike the plane taking out both engines. Sully soon realizes that there isn’t enough time to reach another airport for an emergency landing. Sully makes the executive decision to land the plane in the Hudson River. There were 208 seconds from when the US Airways Flight 1549 jet sucked geese into its engines at 2,818 feet above LaGuardia to the moment when Sully brought the craft down onto the Hudson. News media’s flooded the scenes, calling it “Miracle on the Hudson.”
“I’ve delivered a million passengers over forty years, but in the end I’m going to be judged by two hundred and eight seconds.” The movie, however, is an hour and 36 minutes long. This is where director Eastwood’s keen eye and visionary detail comes into place. Eastwood weaves Sully’s story from past to present and back throughout the entire film. We begin the film with Sully waking up from a nightmare in his hotel room the day after the emergency landing. In this dream Sully is imagining himself fatally crashing the plane into a building in Manhattan. Waking up from this nightmare, Sully has to piece together the events of what took place the day before. Hanks’ skill has an actor come full circle here in his ability to fully engulf the audience with Sully’s pain that he is feeling.
From there, it’s a battle between Sully along with his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (a wonderful Aaron Eckhart) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Throughout the film Eastwood weaves the flight back into play, giving the audience pieces of the emergency water landing until we see the whole picture. Sully is more than your average story of an everyday hero who just so happens to save 155 souls on board. It’s about the battle fighting within Sully as he sheds shelf-doubt and fear inside a man who never really defined himself has a hero. Digging deep with your inner emotions, Sully is a soaring tribute to the crew and passengers of US Airways Flight 1549.
“No one warned us. No one said you were going to lose both engines at a lower altitude than any jet in history. This was dual engine loss at twenty-eight hundred feet followed by an immediate water landing with one hundred and fifty-five souls onboard. No one has ever trained for an incident like that.” Sully is superlative work from its star and director, giving the audience a comforting reward at a night at the movies.
Sully is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For some peril and brief strong language.