Just went to see the new Tom Hanks film in theaters, Sully. Since it’s a bit off topic for my site I’ll just do a quick review.

Sully tells the story of the short flight of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15th 2009. Also called miracle on the Hudson, the Airbus A320 struck a flight of birds and lost both engines shortly after takeoff.

Bird Strike!

Due to an almost perfect combination of circumstances, the pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger was able to make an extremely dangerous emergency water landing and save all 155 passengers and crew. Anyone with an interest in aviation will tell you the odds of pulling off that kind of move with a crippled jet liner are almost improbably small.

The miracle on the Hudson

My main concern with the film is how they were going to stretch an event lasting less than 5 minutes into a feature length film? Fortunately director Clint Eastwood centers the film in the aftermath of the crash and the NTSB investigation. An NTSB investigation is very similar to a criminal investigation, about the only thing they don’t do is arrest and mugshot the people involved. The primary difference is that the investigators are not just determined to find out why and how a crash happened, but how to prevent it from happening again.

Most of the dramatic tension involves the flight crew being grilled by the NTSB investigators. The story frequently flashes back to the crucial moments of the miracle on the Hudson, as well as other critical moments in Sully’s life. The film also shows the stresses that fame bring and the stress of being separated from his family during the investigation.

The investigation
“It was not a crash, it was a forced water landing.”

The film also shows the unsung heroes of the story, the flight attendants who helped keep things together before and after the crash. The ferry boat crews and first responders who helped in the rescue and the air traffic control crew.

The flying sequences are spectacular with minimal CGI and excellent editing. Some of the angles show just how close that plane came to nailing a building in it’s flight path to the river.

While Sully is a fairly low key film, it does a good job of building up dramatic tension and whole thing wraps up in a tight by modern standards 90 minutes. The editing is very tight with very little waste. Refreshing in an era of 2.5 hour epics.

Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart both do well as Captain Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles. The easygoing camaraderie and banter feel realistic. My only issue is that Tom Hanks is so distinctive as an actor and personality, that it’s difficult at times to forget it’s him playing Sully.

Verdict 4.0 Gavels out of 5 A surprisingly good story of a real life group of heroes. A great drama without a lot of fluff. The flight sequences alone are worth seeing on the big screen.



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