Tom Hanks flies high as Captain "Sully" Sullenberger.
On January 15, 2009, Flight 1549 from LaGuardia Airport began a terrifying twist of events in a mere minute and a half after takeoff. At approximately 2,800 feet, a flock of geese flew straight towards the plane, and many were sucked into the engines leading both engines to fail. Captain Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger knew that an immediate return to the airport would be necessary, but what he didn’t know is whether he had enough time to make it back. In an effort to save as many lives as possible, Sully crash-landed on the Hudson River, which would soon become known as the “miracle on the Hudson.”
In order for Captain Sully to pull off this miraculous landing on the Hudson, he had to bring the plane down at the perfect angle and speed. Had this been poorly executed, the plane would have broken in half, leading to disaster. However, Sully was able to successfully crash land the plane and save the lives of all 155 people on board. Because of this, news officials across America began calling him a hero. If you remember the news in 2009, you would think that recognizing Sully as a hero is all that happened after the incident. While media was recognizing Sully for his good deeds, an underlying story occurred, accusing him of menace.
This is where director Clint Eastwood begins his recently released film, “Sully.” Although 86 years old, Eastwood decided to take on a drama film different than his previous work. However, he made sure to do his research and include various interactions which, although dramatized, are almost all accurate. Even the communication between Captain Sully and the radio operator was almost word-for-word from the original recording which occurred seconds before the crash landing.
It may be hard to imagine how a five minute plane crash can take up an hour and thirty-six minutes on the big screen, but the purpose of the film is not to reenact the incident that happened on the Hudson. We all know that there is a happy ending and everyone survived, but what we don’t know is the accusations Sully underwent, despite his saving everyone on board. Frustration sinks in when Sully is forced to tolerate all the countless interviews and meetings after the crash. Investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board accuse him of making the wrong decision, stating that simulations showed a successful return to LaGuardia, and that the endangerment of the lives of those on board was unnecessary. Though a pilot for forty-two years, the fate of his career will be determined by the outcome of this one scenario.
Tom Hanks was remarkable in his performance as Captain Sully. Eastwood was able to find an impeccable pair, including co-star Aaron Eckhart, as Jeffrey Skiles, who proves to be a flawless copilot. Their outstanding performances demonstrate the action scenes featured in Sully’s mind, providing flashbacks from January 15th which haunt his memory (supplying action lovers with all the fulfillment they need). The pair even manages to raise the hairs on your back of your neck at the dreaded words to hear on a plane, “This is the Captain, brace for impact.”
Throughout “Sully,” it is the flashbacks that create the most intriguing scenes in the film. At times, it can be difficult to tell if we are in the past, present or a scenario in which Captain Sully has imagined; however, these are the scenes that get your heart racing. We quickly get attached to the characters, especially the Captain for his care to double and triple check the plane for any remaining passengers (an act the real Sully did, as well). The most gripping scene may be when the radio operator asks Sully which runway he needs to land on and he replies, “We’re going to end up on the Hudson.” Following this heroic event, facing investigators of the board is agitating, but in Sully’s defense, “This was dual engine loss at 2,800 feet followed by immediate water landing with 155 souls on board. No one has ever trained for an incident like that.”
Despite whether or not Sully made the right decision according to the Board, he portrays a real-life American hero. When his opportunity to step up to the plate arose , he went above and beyond what anyone could have done and miraculously saved everyone aboard Flight 1549. Overall, “Sully” is an outstanding film based on the incredible true story and aftermath of the “miracle on the Hudson,” which is well worth taking the time to see in theaters. On a scale out of five, “Sully” receives three and a half stars.