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Sully Review


On the 15th of January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 departed New York's LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte, North Carolina. But it would never reach it’s destination because the plane encountered a flock of birds shortly after take-off, sucking them into and destroying both engines. With every option spelling disaster, Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, along with his co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, was left with the unenviable choice of crashing into Manhattan or attempting a water landing on the Hudson River, which had the potential of killing all on board. He chose the latter, and we got the Miracle on the Hudson. All 155 passengers and crew survived, and Sullenberger was hailed as a hero. It’s an incredibly emotional and inspirational tale, one ripe for a big screen adaption, and who better than director Clint Eastwood and the world’s dad, Tom Hanks, to bring it to life.

Kicking off with a sobering depiction of what could have been (even if audience will be left divided on whether or not Eastwood’s ascertain that the world narrowly avoided another 9/11 is handled correctly), the through line in Sully is more is the aftermath of Flight 1549, namely the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into whether or not Sully acted recklessly, and his own battle with PTSD following the event. Eastwood guides the narrative with a deft hand, really letting us into the mind of the hero of the hour, ably helped by Hank’s pitch perfect performance. He inhabits the role effortlessly, saying little but telling us volumes with his facial expressions and mannerisms. As you would expect, Hanks’ Sully is immensely likable and watching this simple man forced to be a hero by sheer circumstance suffer through the NTSB trying to pin the accident on him is heartbreaking. The cast surrounding him offers great support, especially Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart who, as Skiles, gets one hell of a final line to close out the movie.

Looking at the film’s 96 minute run time, you'll realise that Sully is much shorter than the average movie based off real life events. And it becomes quite quickly that there isn’t much story to mine here. The NTSB investigation feels incredibly light at times, lacking much in the way of tension or dramatic meat. This is because from the opening frame we’re completely behind Sullenberger, knowing full well he’s a hero, and any attempt to convince us other wise is just a distraction. Similarly, Sully’s PTSD isn’t developed as much as it should, summarily dismissed soon after it is introduced. Thankfully, Eastwood makes the most of what he has to work it, at times delivering some truly thrilling and fist in the air moments. How he handles the actual Miracle on the Hudson is spectacular, treating us to multiple versions of the event played out from several different perspectives, including Sully and Skiles, the passengers, and the emergency services who responded to Flight 1549’s distress call.

While it may feel a little thin on the ground at times, Sully is still an extraordinary tale of real-life heroism, helped immensely by Tom Hanks’ powerhouse performance.


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The Movie Bit: Sully Review
Sully Review
The Movie Bit
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