Review: “Sully”


Title: Sully
Year: 2016
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Todd Komarnicki (screenplay), Chesley Sullenberger (based on the book “Highest Duty”)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhardt

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger never dreamt about being a hero. Sully has always been pationate about his job as a pilot and giving only his best performance in every flight he had. 40 years of experience has made him as an expert on aviation, and yet, it still did not prepare him for incident which he later experienced.

On January 15, 2009, Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffery Skiles flew US Airways Flight 1549 from LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Barely three minutes into the flight, the Airbus A320 hit a flock of Canada geese, which disabled both engines. Without engine power, Sully needed to land immediately, however no airports within a safe distance for him to do so. He decided to perform emergency landing in Hudson River even though it was the last option a pilot would choose. Miraculously, Sully was able to land the aircraft safely in the Hudson, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crews aboard. The press and public shortly addressed him as a hero, though he did not feel the same.

Shortly afterward, as regular practice, NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) started an investigation for the incident. The board claimed that result from some tests on the remaining aircraft indicated that the left engine was still running after the birds strike. Theoretically, this would have given Sully enough power to fly back to nearest airports; LaGuardia or Teterboro. In addition, NTSB also claimed that from several flight simulations conducted based on all available data of the incident concluded that the plane could have landed safely in either airport even with both engines disabled. 

Feedback from NTSB naturally disturbed Sully, and made him somehow questioned himself: did he do the right thing back then? Having repeated the incident in his head over and over again, Sully believed that he did his best considering insufficient time or altitude during that 208 seconds of incident. Determined to prove that he had done the right thing and avoid having his career ended, he questioned NTSB to clarify if everything had been accurately investigated. What happened next?

I think Clint Eastwood did a quite good job with the storyline and particularly, selection of the cast. However, indeed there was time when I felt that the pressure done by NTSB agents were a bit too much for accident investigation. The impression I got that they tried to prove Sully did a mistake or human error during the incident, while I believed they should have thought neutrally along the process. This aligned with some article saying that there were parts of “Sully” which were exaggerated and not reflect what actually or should have happened in reality (read here). 

Despite the controversy, I think everyone will agree that the main variable which makes this movie wonderful is, of course, Tom Hanks. Hanks portrayed Sully’s character beautifully (as we would expect). Not only he made me experienced the shock from 1549 incident, he also brought me through this roller coaster of mind where he was having doubt about himself but eventually believed in himself that he had done his best. Aaron Eckhardt also did a good job as Skiles, equivalently disturbed with the incident, but still showing his full support to Sully as his partner.

Overall, I really enjoyed watching Sully. I have always loved Hanks’ performance, and surely he did not let me and everyone else down with his amazing performance as Sully. 

Rate: 4.5 from 5 stars

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