Sully- Film Review
Director Clint Eastwood brings to the cinema screen a real-life riveting tail of an American airline pilot, Chelsea Sullenburger nicknamed ‘Sully’ who on 15 January 2009, executed a miraculous landing on the Hudson river in New York city by gliding his disabled plane onto the frigid waters with 155 people aboard.
The movie enthralls the viewer from the onset with graphic scenes of an aeroplane soaring between tall skyscrapers after it lost thrust in both engines only minutes after take off. The movie with its great directing goes into an intense narrative, capturing and conveying the emotion during the emergency. It feels as though the camera is just a fly on the wall as the crises unfolds, first showing the incredible shock when the aircrew realise they are without engines, and that their altitude is critically low.
Amidst the ensuing chaos, one character stands out, – Captain Sully Sullenburger played by Tom Hanks. A better actor for this role there is not. Hanks eloquently fits into the Sully role, that of an earnest man with a sense of quiet nobility.
Largely eschewing biographical detail, this take on Sullenberger (which writer Todd Komarnicki adapted from Sullenberger’s own book) documents two versions of one story where Captain Sully says that both engines cut out following the collision with a flock of geese; whilst the flight data says that one engine was still operational. The pilot however maintains that there was no way the plane could have made it to the runways at either LaGuardia or Teterboro; which were the landing strips suggested by the ATC that were comfortably within range.
A large part of the film revolves around the technical aspects of the crash telling the story through the lens of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation which seemingly is determined to find the fault in Sullenberger’s decision to land the aircraft on the river after the engines on both wings explode.
To that extent, the NTSB — or rather, the bureaucrats charged with examining the case — are cast as the villains, followed closely by the intrusive media, swarming around Sully’s hotel and his home. The solemn man that he is, Sully isn’t particularly enthusiastic about all the attention and publicity, while experiencing nightmares both about what transpired and what might have, with the NTSB fueling his doubts.
Eastwood plants suspense within the movie as Sully walks around with his shoulders down accompanied by guilt stricken conversations with his wife and media and luring the audience with a reenactment of the flight, roughly one third into the film. The intensity grows with the rescue efforts and Sullenberger’s determination to ensure that everyone aboard the plane is accounted for.
Hanks playing a real-life captain, shows both guts and vulnerability in his portrayal, in a way few current actors could. His good acting skills are fit for this role as Sullenbergers buttoned-up persona and the script provide little in the way of demonstrative moments.
The impeccably edited scenes of the big aeroplane gliding face down onto the Hudson river with 155 hysterical passengers aboard the sinking plane will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, making this movie, in a sense an aviation version of Titanic.