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Sully
Genre Biography
 
Review:

Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger will be remembered for his heroic efforts in making an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York after his Airbus A320 lost the use of its engines following a bird strike shortly after take-off. The pilot's quick thinking saved many lives and planted a much-needed aviation miracle in the hearts and minds of the people of New York after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The amazing true story captured the world's imagination as reports flooded in with the good news. There aren't many happy emergency landing stories and this one took our breath away, creating a national hero and testing the mettle of New York's finest policemen, firefighters and rescue teams who responded immediately.

This story was bound to be adapted to film and who better to direct and star than American treasures, Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks. Eastwood's directing credits include war films, sporting triumphs and generally involve some flag-waving patriotism, whether it be the star-spangled banner in American Sniper or South Africa's national flag in Invictus. He's become known for directing stories that inspire and unfurling the tales of everyday heroes.

Having a solid, accomplished and patriotic director on-board was half the job done and with Tom Hanks playing Sullenberger, almost making the film sturdy enough to recommend blindly. He played Captain Phillips in a role lauded as something of a comeback and there's a wonderful synergy. Both films involve self-sacrificing captains subjected to a difficult and unusual situation, in which they're forced to make immediate life-threatening decisions, which could impact their passengers and crew.

While Captain Phillips was action-intensive, taut and relentless, Sully is unassuming and reflective when we're not experiencing the rush of emergency. We start in the aftermath of the near-disaster where the media can't get enough of America's new hero. True to Sullenberger's surname, Hanks is playing a character who is somewhat sullen. Solemn might be a better word, downplaying the gravity of the dire situation and the instant fame he's achieved. It's a restrained performance as Hanks balances the emotions of a man overwhelmed and yet determinedly calm in his circumstances, much like his emergency landing.

He's supported by earnest turns by Aaron Eckhart as his second-in-command and Laura Linney as his wife. Eckhart is solid, literally playing his wing man, and sporting an impressive moustache that makes you think pilots wear them because they look like wings. Linney anchors the man's home life, something that remains a bit of a mystery since he's almost never out of uniform.

We get a glimpse into Sullenberger's life, a long-serving pilot turned aviation safety official, who after delivering more than a million passengers to their destinations safely is faced with his greatest challenge yet. Flashbacks to his aviation career underscore a decent and committed man as phone calls between him and his wife remind us of the deep sacrifice he's made.

Sully recreates the emergency landing without much embellishment. It seems like an accurate and authentic rendition of the events, carefully creating the on-board environment with a depiction of aviation that enthusiasts will probably admire. It goes even deeper than simply dramatising the miracle landing, going behind-the-scenes to the legal ramifications of choosing to land on the Hudson instead of turning back to the airport. It also serves as a tribute to the level-headed hero and the scores of emergency personnel who work tirelessly in the name of safety.

The salute to New York's servicemen does seem like an important aspect of the film, an issue that Sullenberger would probably want to highlight, downplaying his own heroics. Despite Hanks's solid performance and firm direction from Eastwood, you're left wanting more from this quietly confident biographical drama. However, it's touching to: see people coming together, watch a man of great integrity stand by his word and witness the events unfold gracefully and without question.

The bottom line: Unassuming

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