Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
Director: Clint Eastwood
Running Time: 96 mins
Sully is an American film about the incredible true story of the Miracle on the Hudson, where flight captains Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles performed an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York in freezing conditions, with no fatalities on board.
When Clint Eastwood gets it right, he gets it spot-on. Sully is by far one of his best films, featuring an exceptional central performance from Tom Hanks, near-perfect pacing, and the most jaw-dropping, realistic and emotionally intense depiction of a plane crash I’ve ever seen on the big screen, sitting right at the centre of this spectacular film.
First off, I want to talk about Tom Hanks’ performance. Over the last few years, Hanks has gone up yet another level in his acting prowess, taking on some incredibly mature and intense roles in films like Captain Phillips and Bridge Of Spies. Sully, however, might just be his best-ever performance. On the one hand, he’s always as cool and charismatic as the Tom Hanks we all love, however this is one of those great performances where you don’t see the actor on screen.
From the moment the film opens, Hanks disappears into the role, giving this incredibly calm and collected yet incredibly emotional performance as the real-life hero Chesley Sullenberger. By far one of the most likable main characters you’ll ever see, Sully is humble, kind and brilliantly experienced, and the film brilliantly mirrors the feelings of strangers who meet him throughout by making you feel simply honoured to be in his company, something that both Hanks and director Clint Eastwood deserve huge credit for.
Tom Hanks is definitely the main man in this movie, however there are a good few supporting performances too. Most of all, Aaron Eckhart is fantastic as co-pilot Jeff Skiles. Clearly paying great tribute to the real-life hero, Eckhart contently sits on the side with Sully, always maturely playing as a team when the going gets tough after the miraculous water landing, but it’s that that makes him yet another hugely impressive and supportable presence, and his growing role towards the end of the film has a lot more meaning because of that.
The performances are definitely the most consistent part of this movie, but the single thing that I loved most about Sully was the depiction of the water landing. Although split up into two or three flashback sequences (albeit quite long ones), every second of those scenes is truly exceptional.
It’s not just the stunning use of CGI to achieve the recreation of the event, but the way that Clint Eastwood injects so much emotional power and tension into the scene. A plane going down is one of everyone’s worst nightmares, and there’s never been a film where I myself have felt so scared just sitting in my seat. As the tension and uncertainty builds around how the pilots need to act, shivers went down my spine, just heightening the emotional power at every moment.
Even going into this film knowing the outcome of the water landing (given it only happened 7 years ago), I was stunned to see that I was so emotionally invested in that scene. Altogether, that part of Sully is the best half an hour of a movie I’ve spent in ages, and I will undoubtedly remember the feelings of watching that scene for a long time to come.
It’s not all about that one scene, however, as most of the film revolves around the media frenzy and corporate investigation that follows in the immediate aftermath of the crash. With hauntingly evocative images of 9/11 still lingering, the investigation is tense and intriguing, thanks yet again to expert performances, directing and writing. Although the film does take a couple of missteps with a few flashbacks, ineffective emphasis on the moral ambiguity of Sully’s actions, and the surprisingly abrupt ending, there’s a lot more to learn and think about in this movie.
Overall, I loved Sully. It’s not only a film with a powerfully memorable and visually spectacular main sequence, but one with some of the best performances of the year, yet more incredible directing from Clint Eastwood, and some brilliant writing throughout, and one that you won’t forget in a hurry, so that’s why I’m giving this film an 8.5.