Movie Review: Sully

Although it’s not out in the UK until December, I saw an advanced screening of Sully while I was in New Zealand and am now happy to rave about it back home.

Sully’s central drama is the 2009 emergency water landing on the Hudson River of US Airways Flight 1549 by pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the subsequent investigation into the event.

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Knowing there is one cinematic event, the water landing itself, I feared the film would be dry and drag outside of that that sequence. However it is actually done excellently – the full sequence of the cockpit drama upon the bird strike and subsequent rescue effort is saved until late in the film, but is teased sequentially with slightly more given away each time. This means the viewer knows what is being investigated and the stakes involved, but leaves the payoff and full item of interest as something to look forward to.

What’s more, the tensions around the investigation are much more gripping than it might sound – the pilot and co-pilot were so sure of their decisions but challenged so intently and, it feels, personally. The viewer cannot relax until their motivations are understood, and cleared.

Tom Hanks, as expected, lifts the film a notch as well with his intense, emotional and capable portrayal of Sully. He is assured yet haunted, nervous yet calm. It’s the standard of performance we have come to expect from Hanks – and gels nicely with Aaron Eckhart as his co-pilot too.

As an in-depth look at a real and unique air (non) disaster, Sully is accomplished and considered. Crucially it enables everyday people to better understand what went on that day, in an hour and a half of drama which flies by.

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