Flying planes his whole life, there is little Chesley “Sully” Sullenburger hasn’t come across – that is until a flock of birds cause both engines to malfunction shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York.
This compelling drama, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as the title role, tells the true story of a cold wintery day in January 2009 when Captain Sullenburger was forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River. His quick-thinking and experience meant that all 155 people onboard survived, a feat unlike any other in aviation history, and a fact that is mentioned several times throughout the film.
Sully moves fluidly between past and present, keeping you in the moment, even though half of us must only be there for the crash scenes. Those scenes depicting the terrifying 208 seconds, though fragmented, are visually spectacular, and the score offers just the right amount of eerie silence as the aeroplane stops still in midair.
Hanks’ performance is quietly honest and humble; an ordinary man forced to do extraordinary things in the face of disaster. Aaron Eckhart co-pilots with unabashed humour and a stern moustache.
Powerful and oddly cathartic, the film delivers a dramatic and gripping portrayal of that day in NYC. The true story is hailed as “a heroic and unique aviation achievement” but Sully focuses on the man behind the wings. If even some of the pilots out there are half as dutiful as Sully, then we’d never feel anxious getting on a plane again.