Sully: The Miracle on the Hudson

Tom Hanks in a scene from the film, "Sully." Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Sully revisits the fateful January day when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger pulled off the Miracle on the Hudson against all odds.

January 15, 2009 is a date that will live in history for New Yorkers.  This is the day when 155 lives were saved on US Airways Flight 1549 when it crashed in the Hudson.  What the film delivers isn’t so much a biopic in the traditional sense.  Yeah, we get some flashbacks to his childhood in Texas and early life as an Air Force pilot.  But at the same time, there’s as much focus on the post-landing investigation into the Hudson landing.

Sully (Tom Hanks) and First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) are on board to pilot a routine flight from New York to Charlotte.  A bird attack on their engines some three minutes into the flight meant having to improvise.  You either return to the airport or try to land somewhere in New Jersey.  Sully knows what he’s doing and with the information at hand, he knows they won’t make it.  He certainly does what he must and lands the plane in the Hudson River.  Miraculously, everyone would survive against all odds.

The initial investigation findings are of the belief that Sully could have made a successful landing.  However, this doesn’t take the delay into account.  Upon doing so, everyone knows that Sully acted quickly to make the right decision.

The film’s depiction of the National Transportation Safety Board understandably created some controversy.  Listen, most of the drama is going to come with the landing so you have to continue to drive the drama forward.  That’s not going to happen without making changes for dramatic liberty.  I’d prefer an 100% authentic film but we have to face the cards we’re dealt if you know what I mean.  The investigation is certainly the most challenging part of the film.  Everyone knows about the landing because it was all over the news.  But the investigation plays out in when direction while everyone considers Sully to be a national hero.

The film is fast-paced, running a brisk 96 minutes.  There’s a good amount of film focusing on the investigation and moments during the pilot’s life.  However, the reason why we’re most likely here is to watch the landing on the Hudson.  The film does a solid job at recreating the events.  Even though you know what’s going to happen, the thrilling moments leave you on the edge of your seats.

Tom Hanks is perfect for the role and this couldn’t be more true with the white hair.  He’s one of America’s favorite actors and he delivers another solid performance.  Hanks should have earned another Oscar nomination.  Behind the camera, Clint Eastwood is up to his usual tricks.  While the film isn’t in the top tier of 2016, it’s still a solid achievement in its own right.

Sully is a national hero and Sully shows why.

DIRECTOR:  Clint Eastwood
SCREENWRITER:  Todd Komarnicki
CAST:  Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Mike O’Malley, Anna Gunn, Jamey Sheridan, Ann Cusack, Jane Gabbert, Molly Hagan, Holt McCallany, Chris Bauer, Patch Darragh

Warner Bros. opened Sully in theaters on September 9, 2016. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.