Anthony's Film Review

Sully (2016)

A true story that is dramatic and inspiring without having to be sensational...

January 15, 2009 was one of those remarkable days where the dominant news story was something very positive that you only see once in a while, not a negative event that makes the world seem routinely dark. That was the day when the "Miracle on the Hudson" occurred, when airline pilot Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger had to land U.S. Airways Flight 1549, en route from La Guardia in New York to Charlotte, NC, in the Hudson River, after a flock of birds flew into the engines and instantly disabled the aircraft. It was undoubtedly a miraculous event, because every single person on the plane, crew member or passenger, survived. Yes, that's right. Every one of them. You'd be very hard-pressed to argue that Captain Sully is not a hero, because he clearly is.

Given how fairly recently this event was, I never imagined that Hollywood would make a movie about Sully, even though I'm perfectly aware that Hollywood does biopics all of the time. The reason is simple: there's nothing really more about the Miracle on the Hudson that is significant enough to put in a movie. Well, at least I thought there would be nothing worth filming. As I would learn, the 2016 movie Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as the titular real-life heroic pilot, presents one behind-the-scenes story that was overshadowed by the massive public praise: the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing to determine whether Sully could have actually landed Flight 1549 on an airport runway instead of the Hudson River. Then there's the reenactment of what happened on that flight, from runway takeoff to aquatic rescue.

This movie, which runs for a little over 90 minutes, is simply a dramatization of both the doomed flight and the NTSB hearing afterward. That's not to say it's a boring and dull movie. It's definitely not, because even if you know what happened in real life, the movie still lets you relive the emotions you had when you witnessed the Miracle on the Hudson. Also, the movie does not present those two events chronologically (the flight in the first half, then the NTSB hearing in the second half). Rather, the film goes back and forth in time. It definitely helps avoid the boredom associated with the straightforward chronological approach. Plus, it allows certain moments of the hearing to related to certain moments of the flight. Overall, the arrangement of story segments is effective.

As for cast performances, they're decent. Tom Hanks is good playing Sully as a professional man who is simply doing his job, whether flying routinely or leading an unexpected evacuation effort. Aaron Eckhart co-stars as Sully's co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, in a performance that is also good. Other notable stars of this movie include Laura Linney as Sully's wife who learns about the water landing on the television news, plus Mike O'Malley and Anna Gunn as members of the NTSB who lead the hearing about the Hudson River landing. As for the director, Clint Eastwood has at least made a good movie. This one is definitely nowhere close to his emotional masterpieces, like Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. But Sully is still a nice film to watch.

Basically, the quality of this film is nice, and it's a suitable tribute to Captain Sully and his quick decision-making that saved all 155 people on board. It's people like him who remind us of the best of humanity and what can be achieved when people act selflessly and together with others. What's great about this movie is that it may be a Hollywood production, but there's nothing abuot it that seems overly dramatized. It simply tells the story as it happened and lets the events speak for themselves. There's no need for the film to be sensational, and it shouldn't be. When you have a hero like Sully at the center of an inspiring story, the film really needs nothing more.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Sully, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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