Movie Review: Sully

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: A story that everyone should hear.  Suffers slightly from poor direction.

Everyone likely remembers the events of January 15th, 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 emergency landed onto the Hudson River with 155 souls on board and all lived to tell the tale.  It was an amazing feat in so many different ways.  You have Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) deftly water landing a plane with no working engines.  You have the ferry pilots who raced to the scene to rescue the survivors.  You have the scuba teams.  You have the fire fighters.  You have the police.  You have the Red Cross.  All these disparate groups came together and worked tirelessly to save the stranded passengers and crew.  Very few cities in the world can pull off what New York did that day.  The people on that flight owe their lives to a combination of excellent infrastructure and even better first responders.

The world needs a hero, though, and that hero is Sully.  His name and likeness were plastered on every news show and late show for weeks.  His life is not at all atypical of most airline pilots.  Flew when he was young.  Flew during the war.  Made a career as an airline pilot.  His is a simple story of lifetime commitment and practice and nerves of steel under extraordinary circumstances.  Heroes don’t fall apart until after the crisis has passed.

If there is a bad guy in this film, it’s the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), US Airways, and Airbus who try to pin the water landing on human error.  US Airways and Airbus make sense.  They have a lot riding on proving that there’s nothing wrong with their craft.  The NTSB, however, doesn’t make much sense.  It makes me wonder if there were liberties taken in the portrayal of this governmental entity or if they really do take that much guidance from the airlines and manufacturers.

The only real issue with the film is one of flow.  Sully’s younger years are thrown in as kind of an afterthought and they don’t really add to the movie except to show that he’s been flying planes for a really long time.  They show the landing multiple times to little effect.  Then there’s the weird plan crash dream that gets repeated too.  They’re all odd choices.

Despite the flow issues, this is still a movie that is well worth watching if you don’t know the whole story of the Miracle on the Hudson and its aftermath.  It’s got Tom Hanks in it so you at least know you’re going to be treated to good acting.  As a plus, Aaron Eckhart kind of steals the show in the scenes he’s in and he seems to work well with Tom Hanks.  I’d like to see the two of them do another movie together.

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