Sully (2016) review


Sully is not a biopic about Captain Sullenberger’s 40-year experience as a pilot. Rather, It focuses on his big career-defining moment when he saved the everyone aboard of Flight 1549 by landing it on the Hudson River. Few films are centered around such a short period of time as Sully which looks at the 200 seconds in which Sully made the decision to land in the Hudson.

Tom Hanks stars as the titular Sully and, being Tom Hanks, does a great job. He is especially great when getting the crew to safety. He stays calm and does not freak out. He’s just doing his best to keep the plane full of people he’s carrying alive. Hanks also does a good job as Sully after the incident. For a guy who usually keeps his cool, you can see stuff bubbling in his mind that’s troubling him. He’s overwhelmed by all the attention he’s getting and just wants to go back to doing his job. Hanks does a really good job conveying this with expressions and voice. It’s another stellar performance by the actor.

Also of note is Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles, Sully’s first officer. Eckhart does a good job as Sully’s close friend, and the only person who was in the cockpit with him when it went down. Though he could’ve been overshadowed by Hanks, Eckhart gives a top-notch performance. As Sully even states in the movie, it was just as much Jeff as it was him who saved the plane.

The scenes of the plane going down are quite tense. Clint Eastwood did a standout job on these and they had me on the edge of my seat. Eastwood puts you into the same place as the passengers and this also helps us really see how much of a hero Sully was. I also like the present-day scenes. They aren’t super flashy moments, but Eastwood does a subtle job on the film that’s effective. While throwing you off guard for the more intense scenes. The parts where Sully is jogging around New York City are also a good look at how Sully is feeling, without having him give a grand speech or monologue.

Sully has a lot flying for it, but if there’s one thing I have a slight problem with it was the representation of the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) as villains. They were portrayed as two dimensional baddies out to get Sully and everything he stands for. That being said, I see the narrative reasoning behind adding them as the antagonists. Most people know how the story ends, so by adding the NTSB as villains, it gave more stakes that aren’t as generally known (i.e. was the left engine actually broken?). It gave the film a necessary antagonist.

Nitpicks aside, I enjoyed Sully a great deal. It had a small, but immensely effective cast. The two leading men, Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart do a great job. Clint Eastwood brings his typical subtle touch as director. All of these factors make Sully a powerful and effective film.