There’s something beautiful about stories of survival against the odds. It hasn’t been very long since January 15th, 2009 and the story of Chesley “Sully” Sullinberger’s heroic water landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 is still fresh on many of our minds. Movies like this write themselves, but it still takes a good cast and a quality narrative to make a great story into a great film.
2013’s Captain Phillips was enough evidence that Tom Hanks is the perfect leading man for a film like this. Hanks plays Sully in the stressful aftermath after he and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) land Flight 1549 in the Hudson River following a sudden bird strike that leaves the plane with both engines inoperable. While Sully and Skiles navigate press conferences and media appearances hailing them as heroes, an investigation is underway that makes them question if their decision to make the emergency landing was the correct one.
Things could’ve been pieced a little better, and it’ll probably irk a few government folks to see the National Transportation Safety Board portrayed as antagonists, but all in all, Sully comes off as an endearing film about a true hero. Hanks plays the lead role with a shy nobility that makes Sullingberger somehow even more likable. Aaron Eckhart does an equally fine job as Sully’s faithful wing man. The dialogue in the film is also acutely poignant throughout whether it’s from the lead actors or the supporting cast in limited screentime.
The plane crash scene is as heart pounding as one would think, although I would’ve loved to see it at the climax of the film. The actual climax, however, is a solid think piece on how we as calculated humans should sometimes forget about protocol and measure our humanity and how it affects every situation. The real Sullingberger is the true definition of a hero, and this film does his story justice and makes the “Miracle of the Hudson” feel that much more surreal.
FINAL GRADE: A-