On January 15, 2009, a US commercial aircraft, "Cactus 1549" - commanded by Captain Sullenberger aka Sully, with 155 passengers on board, survived a "forced water landing" in New York's Hudson River after being hit by a flock of birds.
Film: “Sully”; Director: Clint Eastwood; Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Mike O’Malley, Anna Gunn, Jamey Sheridan, Ann Cusack, Jane Gabbert, Molly Hagan, Holt McCallany, Chris Bauer and Patch Darragh; Rating: ****
“Sully” is a focused and well told story of the “miracle on the Hudson”.
On January 15, 2009, a US commercial aircraft, “Cactus 1549” – commanded by Captain Sullenberger aka Sully, with 155 passengers on board, survived a “forced water landing” in New York’s Hudson River after being hit by a flock of birds.
The film not only gives an insight into the well covered and documented incident and the rescue operations that followed, but it also reveals the facts about the investigations conducted by the National Transport Safety Board – as to whether or not Captain Sully could have, in fact, made it back to a runway instead of landing the plane in the middle of a river, thereby risking the lives of passengers.
With not much over-dramatic overtures, this lightly fictionalized re-enactment of Sully’s remarkable aviation feat is well encapsulated by director Clint Eastwood and his screenwriter Todd Komarnicki. They astutely portray the reality in all its simplicity.
They build up the drama by actually evaluating the psyche of the captain and ingeniously walks the audiences through the incident a number of times, from different perspectives giving depth to the narrative and elevating Sully to the status of an undoubtable hero.
Tom Hanks as Captain Sullenberger is outstanding. With a calm and unfazed composure during the calamity and looks that befit his 42 years of flying experience with a combat background, he carries himself with remarkable confidence. He portrays the humble hero, who is uncomfortable with the “hero” tag, and his internalised trouble, with natural ease.
He is aptly supported by his co-stars who are mostly one-dimensional characters. Prominent among the many are Aaron Eckhart as the First Officer Jeff Skiles, who co-pilots the ill-fated aircraft, and Laura Linney as his wife who seems more interested in Sully’s pay cheque than him.
The writing, which includes the dialogues, is simple, crisp and powerful. The spoken lines like; “A delay is better than a disaster” or “A man with no time becomes a hero of all times”, linger in your mind much after you leave the auditorium.
It is a feel good film that has been aesthetically presented and realistically mounted. Tom Stern’s camera work seems so real and intruding. His frames seamlessly mesh with the visual effects and you feel as though you are watching a docudrama.
Editor Blu Murray’s snappy edits are worth a mention. The transitions of the scenes especially from flashbacks to reality are smooth and seamless, it perfectly suits the momentum of the narrative.
Overall, this film is a treat to watch.