REVIEW: Sully (2016)

Theatrical Release Poster - Warner Bros.
Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros.

The following is a review of Clint Eastwood’s Sully.

Sully, which is based on a memoir written by Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow, tells the true story of the events surrounding US Airways Flight 1549 – the plane that pilot Chesley Sullenberger (played by Tom Hanks) felt that he was forced to land on New York’s Hudson River. However, in the days that followed, Sullenberger had to defend his decision to the press and to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Making a full length film about these events just a few years after they happened was always going to be difficult. Most people know what happened, and the crash itself didn’t last for a long time. You need filmmakers with an idea of how to showcase an event that the majority of people are familiar with, and an actor that is able to properly play the real life hero that Sullenberger is.

Thankfully, that is exactly what we have with Sully. Tom Hanks is always good. He’s just one of those actors that can do no wrong. Hanks plays the very humble hero Chesley Sullenberger masterfully, and while Hanks’ is one of the most famous faces in the film world, Hanks disappears into the role. Aaron Eckhart, who plays the First Officer, is also great in the film.

Clint Eastwood and the rest of the filmmaking crew did a great job with the event. They structure the entire film around it, and return to the crash landing multiple times, which works better than one might expect. The crash itself is depicted in a very lifelike way, and it is actually horrifying.

The way the flight attendants direct the passengers during the crash feels heartbreakingly real. Another thing that works quite well, are these nightmare scenarios that Sullenberger imagines, in which the plane doesn’t land, and instead crashes into buildings violently.

What doesn’t work quite as well, however, is that the film makes the NTSB investigators into villains trying to tear down Sullenberger’s reputation. It felt like a witchhunt, and I don’t think that was the right way to approach the NTSB investigation.

I was also slightly disappointed with how little we got of Sullenberger’s family. Sure, there are scenes with Laura Linney, who plays Lorraine Sullenberger, but there isn’t a lot to these scenes. I think more could’ve been done with Sullenberger’s wife and children.

But Sully doesn’t waste your time. It gets to the point quickly and often, and is propelled by great performances by Eckhart and Hanks, while Eastwood does a great job with the crash landing scenes. It isn’t filled with unnecessary information or scenes. Sully is a lean but lovely true story of a miracle and a hero who just did his job.

8.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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