Heroism on the Hudson

Sully

sully_ver2

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Valerie Mahaffey, Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Anna Gunn, Holt McCallany, Sam Huntington, Max Adler

Clint Eastwood has turned into a brilliant director. At the age of 86 after a successful career in iconic films, Eastwood has shown a deft and experienced hand behind the camera. Just think Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino.

Now Eastwood as director turns in another remarkable cinematic achievement in the riveting retelling of the fateful day on the 15th January 2009 when an experienced airline pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger makes a decision to land an airbus on the icy Hudson River and by doing so avoids an aviation calamity. As a film Sully is helped by the innovative script by Todd Komarnicki, who employs a non-linear approach to the narrative.

Sully is a top notch portrayal of a good news story, a superb retelling of a bizarre incident which caused 30 years of human experience and a huge desire to save everyone on board, into an unrivalled act of heroism. The feat was stunning. In the shadow of 9/11, for once an aircraft disaster did not end in tragedy over the Manhattan skyline.

sully

Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forest Gump) in one of his finest portrayals onscreen since Bridge of Spies, plays Chelsey Sullenberger, or Sully as the film title suggests who despite saving all 155 passengers and crew on board a USAirlines flight from La Guardia to Charlotte, North Carolina, goes horribly wrong when the plane hits a bird strike and both engines are destroyed. Sully has to land the airbus in the Hudson River on a freezing January day.

What Eastwood does so cleverly is he sets up doubt immediately in the audiences mind as Sully opens with potential scenarios of what could have gone wrong, the airbus crashing into a skyscraper or worse.

Then besides the doubt and aviation investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the cause of the crash and whether as aircraft captain, he made the right judgement call, Sully faithfully recreates all the events of that miraculous day from the plane taking off and its descent into the river separating New York from New Jersey.

Hanks is superb in this role, choosing to downplay all the traumatic emotions which usually spring from such a courageous event and focus on his own conviction that whatever could have been simulated would never have occurred in real life, involving experienced human beings dealing with an exceptional situation. What saved all 155 passengers on board that flight was a confluence of timing, experience and intuition.

For what Sully does point out is that most aircraft water landings end in tragedy or worse absolute disappearance like flight MH370 which vanished into the South Indian Ocean soon after take-off from Kuala Lumpur en-route to Beijing in 2014. The wreckage of that aircraft is still being searched for to this day.

Sully is a genuine rendition of a miraculous and courageous event, a well-crafted and mature film cleverly directed by Clint Eastwood and beautifully acted by Tom Hanks. As Oscar season is on the way, then Sully should be one of its first contenders for Best Director and Best Actor. Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney have supporting roles as loyal co-pilot and anxious wife respectively.

Highly recommended viewing. Sully is a must see film.

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