‘Sully’ is a Drama/Biopic telling the story behind Chesley Sullenberger and the miracle emergency landing of an Airbus A380 in the Hudson River in 2009 that made him an instant hero. The film stars Tom Hanks as ‘Sully’, Aaron Eckhart as co-pilot Jeff Skiles, and is directed by Clint Eastwood, and what do you get when pairing Hanks with Eastwood? Greatness. One of the questions everyone going into this film has is how do you turn a 208 second event into a full length feature film and make it an engaging experience? But this film does it excellently, giving you insight into the events leading up to, during, and after the flight where the majority of the film is spent shedding light on the drama that occurred after the event. Eastwood does a fantastic job at capturing the horror of the event and conveying the seriousness of the traumatic experience through great visual and sound design and with the aid of top notch emotionally strong performances.
The way the film handles this retelling was incredibly smart as it allowed the film to pace itself out and gradually explore the horrific event in great detail as oppose to confining it to a 5 minute scene mid way through the film. The film is primarily set shortly after the big event takes place and is focusing on the investigation behind Sully’s actions and the effect this traumatic experience has on someone who was responsible for the lives of 155 people. All of these scenes work solely because of the level of talent that Hanks is able to put into every single one of his performances, and the emotion he displays here in this film is so impactful and adds to the overall tone of the film immensely. The events before and during the flight are edited in throughout the film where it has you relive the events constantly from multiple perspectives as they relate to the current investigation unfolding. All of these scenes except one were very effective, impactful, and necessary to understand the story and what everyone was going through during the event.
There were even scenes that subtly linked the horrors experienced during this event to those experienced during the ‘Titanic’ disaster and how from the outside it is a smaller event in terms of scale but in the moment in is just as terrifying. Clint Eastwood’s presence is also greatly felt throughout the movie in both the more calmer, character centric dramatic scenes as well as the more horrific scenes with heightened intensity. He showed how well he can accomplish something with this amount of traumatic character depth in ‘American Sniper’ and he emulates some of those familiar effects in this film. The use of great camera techniques and incredible implementation of score creates a mood during the flight scenes that is akin to something you would experience when watching a traumatic war scene.
Despite what this film does so well one of the major issues i had with the film was that some of the dialogue did feel a little cheesy or predictable where i was essentially able to guess many responses in advance and that part of it is where some of the hollywood writing connection began to show through what is otherwise a very engaging character experience. So in the end Sully is a great retelling of a miraculous event with a strong performance by Hanks, great directing job by Eastwood, and managed to turn 208 seconds into an hour and a half with ease.