The infamous U.S. Airways water landing into the Hudson River by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is the basis for the new film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks. Anchored by another tremendous performance in a career full of them, Sully offers a sobering, eminently worthwhile testament to Tom Hank’s ability to hold the screen. The movie is rigorous, serious and well-crafted, with Hanks employing only his economical emotional reactions and physical presence to craft another memorable role.
A miraculous landing that saved the 155 souls on-board Flight 1549 tuns pilot Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) into a National hero. His face appears on newspapers and magazines stands, personal appearances on talk-shows, and an adoring public all propel the somewhat introverted man into a media sensation. That’s until the flight review board brings accusations that Sully and his co-pilot (Aaron Eckhart) could have made it to two nearby air-ports instead of attempting and completing the most difficult water-landing in recorded history.
The film shows us the ‘big event’ four times, as Sully has nightmares about the horrific possible outcome of the flight had he preformed incorrectly. It’s a narrative device that robs the finale of tension because we have already been privy to the experience and terror beforehand. The landing sequence has been accomplished by high-level CGI and numerous other tricks of the craft, but the over-all effect is seamless and ranks amongst similar scenes in Flight, Cast Away, and Fight Club.
Even when the story lags or meanders in filler to make feature-length running-time, Sully benefits from Tom Hanks’ affable charisma and his easy chemistry with a co-star Aaron Eckhardt. Though predictable and dramatically underwhelming, the movie is essentially about perseverance: playing it smart, doing your job and not giving up.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney