Captain Chesley Sullenberger did the impossible. On January 15, 2009, Captain Sullenberger landed a passenger airline, in the middle of the Hudson River, without any loss of life.
This story took the nation by storm. Headlines around the world called the act a “miracle” and anointed Sullenberger as a hero. As happens in every news cycle, the story faded from the headlines weeks later. Now, this modern day miracle is being re-told on the big screen by Clint Eastwood (American Sniper, Gran Torino) and Tom Hanks as Sullenberger.
This story unfolds in a way that builds suspense while allowing the audience to go inside the mind of Sullenberger. What would it have been like to be in command of that aircraft? Knowing that 155 souls were at risk? After seeing the film, it’s clear that Tom Hanks was the best choice for playing Sullenberger. Hanks not only commands the screen with every word but he brings a level of humanity to Sullenberger that wasn’t seen in the headlines and TV interviews.
Eastwood also shines once again behind the camera. Sully focuses on what happened during, before and after the water landing of Flight 1549. Much of what happened behind-the-scenes was unexplored in the news. Much of this story is new, despite knowing that the plane will successfully land. He allows the events to unfold while pacing the film in a way that doesn’t lose the attention of the audience. Eastwood puts the character development front and center throughout while taking the audience on an adrenaline-filled thrill ride.
Sully is about how Sullenberger was able to process such an unlikely event, on an emotional level. This is a story about just how powerful and extraordinary the “human element” can be.
Sully was refreshing after sitting through what felt like an exhaustive summer movie season with bloated CGI fests owning the box office. Suicide Squad, X-Men: Apocalypse and Independence Day: Resurgence disappointed many. As an audience member, I wasn’t invested in those stories. They felt more focused on the CGI and special effects. Many summer movies this year felt forced and unoriginal, not even an extra large popcorn could make them better.
Sometimes getting lost in a movie and becoming enthralled with a character living through extraordinary circumstances is just the reset button that audiences have been longing for.