Of course, we're talking about Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's miraculous water landing of a commercial jet on the Hudson River.
Sully isn't really a biopic or a story about the events that morning.
Eastwood overplays his hand a bit here, with the officials coming across as a bit too villainous when interrogating a pilot and his First Officer, Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), who have become overnight heroes. The plane lands safely and all 155 lives are spared, but an investigation ensues which could ruin Sully's reputation and his career. Sully was always a hero in the public eye and this film digs into him as the man, not the legend.
Hanks gives a strong, understated performance that shows Sullenberger's devotion to his family, his crew, his passengers and his love of flying.
He explained: "It's just a bad dream sequence, and what could have happened if he didn't make the right decision". Similar queries come up when evaluating the decisions of Eastwood and his collaborators.
But what he endures following the incident is a scathing investigation team hell bent on showing him he made a mistake and he could have in fact turned the plane around and landed it safely on one of the many runways available to him in NY. Why do the passengers on the plane feel like cardboard cutouts? This mixes well with the personal story cleverly told through phone conversations between Sully and his wife, Lorraine (Laura Linney).
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5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
Several reviews of "Sully" have pointed out that the most talked-about parts of the film will likely be the scenes from on board the flight.
Despite this film's fairly brief runtime, Clint Eastwood manages to construct a gripping retelling of this incredible real life story, without losing pace for even a second. "Sully" tells the story behind the story. Sullenberg called his book Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters. These issues notwithstanding, "Sully" is still very engaging. In Oct. 2015, Bridge of Spies, helmed by Steven Spielberg and starring Hanks, opened to $15.4 million on its way to becoming a solid performer.
We investigate a little of Sully's distinguished career as a pilot and see him on the phone with his anxious wife Lorraine (Laura Linney), and Eastwood also naturally recreates the event itself: the "bird strike" by Canadian geese, the engine failure, the hitting of the water, the panic, the cold, the rescue and the 24 minutes or so that united NY (if only for a short while).
On the basis of the movie Sully, you manufacture a crisis out of a minor footnote.
Wright writes about movies for The San Diego Union-Tribune.