Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney
Capturing the heart and soul of an entire country following a poignant emergency can be an equally challenging and emotional process. Reclaiming that genuine sympathy almost eight years after the event can become an even more difficult experience. But in the new biographical drama, ‘Sully,’ director Clint Eastwood elegantly highlighted the heroic actions of the title character, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, as he made his noteworthy emergency landing in New York in 2009. The film, which is based on the pilot’s autobiographical memoir, ‘Highest Duty,’ and will be released in theaters nationwide tomorrow by Warner Bros., is the latest outlet that rightfully praises the captain’s bravery in his actions.
‘Sully’ follows Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and his first officer, Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), as they reflect on their decision to land their disabled plane onto New York City’s Hudson River on January 15, 2009. The passengers and media later laud the two for saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew members in what was later dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) fails to acknowledge Sullenberger’s unprecedented feat of aviation skill after he had to make quick decisions when he unexpectedly flew into a flock of birds. The officials instead launch an investigation into US Airways Flight 1549’s emergency landing, which threatened to destroy the pilots’ reputation and career. The inquiry into Sullenberger’s decision to make the emergency landing on the Hudson makes him personally question his judgment. He subsequently expresses those doubts to his wife, Lorraine (Laura Linney), who becomes emotional herself. She’s unsure on how to contend with the media’s continuous presence outside their home on her own, as her husband must remain in New York during the investigation.
During the NTSB’s subsequent hearings, Sullenberger is forced to testify in front of skeptical commissioners. With the help of computer simulations, the captain and his first officer ultimately prove they made the best decision possible during the tense and emotional few minutes between the bird strike and landing.
The Academy Award-winning Hanks once again proved what a versatile and talented actor he is with his stunning embodiment of the celebrated title pilot in ‘Sully.’ Not only did the performer stunningly present Sullenberger as the poised and sophisticated leader he is while defending himself against the NTSB officials, but also the humble captain who was truly more concerned with his passengers’ safety than taking sole credit for bringing them to safety. Hanks also captivatingly showcased his character’s internal questioning of whether he made the right decision to land on the Hudson River, following the commissioners’ excessive questioning of his judgment, which highlights the pilot in a humble and relatable manner.
‘Sully’ screenwriter Todd Komarnicki also expertly incorporated Sullenberger’s memories of the events leading up to and following the landing, as well as the actual crash, into the pilot’s mission to defend his decisions in the flight’s aftermath. While flashbacks often times interfere with viewers’ ability to connect with the building of the characters’ and story’s trajectory, the captain’s recollection in this drama beneficially helped prove his case. Eastwood smartly incorporated the title character’s memories of each part of the flight into the numerous scenes in which he’s reflecting on what actually happened. The powerful combination of flashbacks with the narrative’s current events make the biographical drama emotionally gripping, and provides extra credence to the pilot’s decisions.
The biographical drama is not only noteworthy for Hanks’ sentimental and powerful portrayal of the title character in a well-crafted narrative, but also for its stunning cinematography. Eastwood reunited with his frequent collaborator, Director of Photography, Tom Stern, who used IMAX cameras for nearly the entire shoot.
Relying on his extensive experience in camera work and long-standing working relationship with the Oscar-winning director, the cinematographer effortlessly captured the trajectory and stunning nature of Hanks and Eckharts’ alluring performances. Stern’s impeccable work of the IMAX cameras will also surely make viewers feel as though they’re in the actual plane with the characters, which helps make their struggles all the more releatable.
Through Hanks’ enthralling natural ability to showcase Sullenberger’s determination to remain a strong leader during the terrifying emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549, while also humbly contending with his decision in the aftermath, the drama is a powerful example of a strong biopic. Along with the captivating inclusion of the pilot’s emotional memories of the landing, as well as Stern’s impeccable use of IMAX cameras as he shot the movie, ‘Sully’ is a powerful example of how to engagingly and humanely adapt a hero’s story for the screen.
Written by: Karen Benardello
Watch ‘Sully’s official IMAX trailer below.