Review: SULLY

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

The remarkable true story of US Airways Flight 1549 and it emergency crash landing in the Hudson River is not only one for the history books, but is tailor-made for a feature film treatment.   On January 15, 2009, this incident made a media celebrity of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the plane safely and managed to help 155 people survive.  Most people are familiar with the incident and the media circus that followed; however, not everyone knows the tough scrutiny that Captain “Sully” and his co-pilot First Officer Jeff Skiles faced soon afterward.

From the moment the incident happened officials of US Airways begin to investigate the entire incident almost to a microscopic level.  Did Sully (Tom Hanks) and Skiles (Aaron Eckhardt) make the right decision?  Could they have landed safely at LaGuardia or another airport?  Were all of the right protocols followed?  These are just some of the questions that these two aviators faced in addition to the exuberant praise they received from the media and general public.

Written by Todd Komarnicki and directed by Clint Eastwood, Sully truly is a fascinating, gripping and emotional film that competently recreates the true events that captivated the general public that fateful day in early 2009, but also frightened and disturbed not only the crew and passengers, but also the officials of the airline.  Eastwood and Komarnicki do a mostly superb job showing multiple perspectives of the entire emergency and they also do an exceptional job of delving into the psychology of the survivors, particularly that of Sully and Skiles who were in no way ready for the public’s reaction to their heroism.

My  only complaint has to do with the development and portrayal of the investigators digging for human error.  For mere dramatic effect, these characters, particularly Charles Potter (Mike O’Malley), are portrayed as villains in the story.  Thankfully, they aren’t presented as over-the-top, mustache-twisting villains, but their use as antagonists is pretty transparent and not in keeping with the otherwise realism of everything else in the movie.

The protagonists, which not only consist of the famous pilot and co-pilot, but the other crew and passengers, including an air traffic controller, get the proper development and treatment they deserve.  The actors portraying them offer excellent performances.  Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhardt definitely shine here with Hanks standing out as the humble and unassuming pilot who doesn’t feel like a hero, but a man who was just doing his job.  The film also features great work by Laura Linney, Jane Gabbert, Ann Cusack, Molly Hagen, and Sam Huntington.

Because the development of these wonderful and fascinating characters and their incredible true story by the writer, director and cast, I must highly recommend this film.  This film is not only a testament to an exceptional collaborative effort of filmmaking, but is a fitting tribute to the collaborative effort that saved the entire crew and passengers of Flight 1549.

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