In January 2009, when both engines of US Airways Flight 1549 failed, Captain Chelsey ‘Sully’ Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) is forced to make an emergency landing on New York’s Hudson River, saving the lives of everybody on board and turning the captain into a national hero. However, he faces an investigation about the incident, threatening both his reputation and career.
Based on the Captain’s autobiography, this account of the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ is Clint Eastwood’s best directorial effort in years. The combination of tense sequences, first-rate acting and a taut running time makes Sully an intense yet insightful drama.The film’s emphasis on the landing sequence makes for quite a repetitive narrative, as the events play out in different iterations. However, the brilliance of the special effects makes these scenes gripping and frighteningly realistic. Not only do we see the actual events from different perspectives, but tragic alternate outcomes are illustrated in Sully’s visions, which, along with the heroism of the crew and first-responders evoke parallels with 9/11, and bring Eastwood’s recurring theme of heroism to the fore.
"This account of the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ is Clint Eastwood’s best directorial effort in years"
Tom Hanks is excellent as ever. He captures Sully’s everyman figure, authoritative nature and reluctant hero status in a nuanced and brooding performance, for which he should receive the awards recognition that he has missed out on recently with Bridge of Spies and Captain Phillips. Aaron Eckhart and Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn are the stand outs from an impressive supporting cast, although Laura Linney is largely wasted as Lorraine, Sully’s wife, who spends the entirety of her screen time on the phone to her husband.
The combination of Eastwood and Hanks is perfect for the film’s real-life subject matter. Hanks’ immensely trustworthy and likeable persona keeps Sully grounded as the film’s heart, while Eastwood handles the set-pieces with ease and honours the bravery of those involved.
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