Sully Movie Review And Summary

Sully -Miracle on the Hudson is a biographical drama portraying the extraordinary event from January 15, 2009, when a passenger flight from US Airways was forced to land on the Hudson River in New York. The real incident only took a few minutes to unfold, but did the director Clint Eastwood have enough material to compile it into a 96-minute movie, and was Tom Hanks’ brilliance enough to save this movie? Read our Sully movie review to find out.

Sully Movie Review and Rating

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

So, what is Sully all about? The hour-and-a-half-long drama will take you behind the scenes of the emergency landing made by Captain Chesley Sullenberger (played by Tom Hanks) and how he handles the newfound stardom after that. However, what movies explain in great detail (which many of us didn’t know at that point) how National Transportation Safety Board members set up an inquiry, doubting Mr. Sully’s decision to ditch the plane on the Hudson. 

One thing that works massively in the favor of the movie is the perfect casting of Tom Hanks as Captain Sully. He looks calm, composed, and authoritative during the most challenging moments of his life, in line with the demeanor one would expect from an experienced pilot.

Although you spend a lot of time staring at Hanks’ face in the movie, it gets better every time. Whether conveying relief after saving all 155 passengers, the discomfort from the spotlight, or the disappointment from accusations by Insurance people, Tom Hanks’ showed us why he remains one of the best in the business. Surely his previous work in Apollo 13, Captain Phillips, and Saving Private Ryan has helped him get into the shoes of poker-faced Capt. Sully. 

Aaron Eckhart as First Officer Jeff Skiles did what he was expected to do. It’s very hard for any actor to impress the audience with Tom Hanks next to you in almost every scene, but Aaron fares reasonably well, much better than his similar role in the 2003 fiasco – The Core. Although the mustache could be a little more realistic! 

Laura Linney as Sully’s Lorraine Sullenberger is captivating, but unfortunately, the script doesn’t give her enough screen time to show her talent, beyond expressing concern and shedding tears over Sully’s well-being. The rest of the cast is as good as daily office-goers doing their job and none of them manages to leave a lasting impression. 

Sully Movie Plot

On January 15, 2009, Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles were en route to US Airways Flight 1549 from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Barely 3 minutes after the take-off, at an altitude of nearly 850 meters, the aircraft meets with a flock of birds, two of which get lodged in both engines, eventually damaging them. Mayday calls are made, and the crew finds it unable to land the plane at any of the nearest airports. Without much time to react, Capt. Sully decides to land the Airbus A320 on the Hudson River and successfully manages to do so. All 155 lives, including the crew members miraculously survive, with mild injuries. 

Captain Sully, who is a nationwide hero now, finds it difficult to deal with the attention of the media which is both in favor and against him. Sully stays in New York to cooperate with the investigators who claim that ACARS data suggests the left engine was still in idle power and had enough boost to land the aircraft at any of New York’s airports. 

Moreover, the National Transportation Safety Board claims that their simulators have revealed similar results that it was feasible to land the plane at Teterboro or LaGuardia, trying to paint it as a pilot error. NTSB agrees to run the simulators in the presence of Sully and the first officer, all of which result in a successful landing. Sully argues that such simulations are unrealistic as they don’t take human factors into account.

He further explains that these live pilots on simulators already know the situation and the emergency action required to take, while the reality was much more difficult. Agreeing with Sully, NTSB rerun the simulators with a 35-second pause before deciding to land at the airport. Both simulations fail, resulting in a plane crash. 

Meanwhile, the NTSB team announced that the recovered engines from the river were significantly damaged after the bird strike, again proving that Mr. Sully was right. 

Ultimately, the board conceded that, given the challenging circumstances, Sully’s actions were correct, and he deserved credit for saving all 155 lives.

Why Watch Sully?

While nearly everyone seems to know the storyline of the movie, director Clint Eastwood brilliantly injects elements of surprise, tension, and emotions into this 96-minute drama. While heroism has been one of Eastwood’s favorite themes, Sully takes a step ahead and gives us the backstory of a remarkable incident in US aviation history. The original incident took place in barely over 200 seconds (real-time), but Clint smartly manages the time frames while still being realistic about the incident. 

The rescue sequence, which takes nearly 24 minutes to unfold, will get you engaged, and the tension on Sully’s face when searching for survivors in the ever-sinking plane, is a treat to watch. Hanks, like always, does more with his face than his dialogues. One of the best scenes is when Sully finds out that all 155 passengers on board were safely evacuated. You feel the relief that Sully must be feeling at the moment. 

The concluding scenes after the NTSB inquiry are also moving and might get you teary, as the hero finally gets justice. It’s just Clint Eastwood’s style to create a character who is inherently good-hearted but questioned by the masses and ultimately comes out clean. With Sully, he had the gold to work with, and he certainly did not disappoint.

What’s the Weakest Link of Sully?

it’s difficult to create a movie on an incident that transpired in just over 3 minutes in real life. Clint Eastwood tries his best to keep the story going, but at times, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Especially the investigation sequence, which looks a bit artificial and detached from reality. Eastwood seems overly eager to portray the investigators as bad guys, and it is reflected in their facial expressions, and dialogues, who instantly start treating Sully like an enemy of mankind. It’s a bit difficult to digest. 

Certain cringe-worthy moments, such as three friends securing last-minute seats before the ill-fated flight takes off, could have been avoided for a more natural narrative flow.

Final Words

Overall, Sully is a must-watch drama, whether or not you are a Tom Hanks fan. He undoubtedly is the heart and soul of the film. Through his composed and unfazed demeanor, embodying the essence of an experienced and authoritative pilot, Hanks successfully brings to life one of America’s genuine heroes. Although the movie misses some crucial points that should be discussed, you are sure to feel the tension, leaving you with a palpable sense of suspense and, perhaps, sweaty palms.

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