A simple story of an extraordinary feat performed by a humble man “just doing his job”.
The 2016 biopic ‘Sully‘ is a straight ahead accounting of how a pilot, going against all odds, safely landed a crippled plane with 155 crew and passengers on the Hudson River in New York City. Damn straight…and damn good.
This event happened, for real. And despite the fact that this is as close to a documentary of this event as we’ll ever need to see, surprisingly, there is not a single “Based on a True Story” in sight. Even the crash CGI is painstakingly recreated with forensic detail.
The film follows the NTSB (National Traffic and Safety Board) investigation immediately following the “crash”. While Captain Sully is publicly assaulted with accolades from seemingly everyone he is experiencing private moments of second-guessing and doubt.
Tom Hanks is an ideal choice to portray “Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger“. A veteran pilot whose sage like approach to life transcends this magnificent feat. In the face of all criticism from the aviation “expert” investigators, Sully sticks his ground and fights for what he ultimately feels was the correct path.
In support Aaron Eckhart helps ground the film as the only other actual witness, Sully’s copilot “Jeff Skiles“. With another driving performance from Laura Linney as Sully’s stuck at home wife “Lorraine“. Solid performances all around; even within the mostly under-defined extended cast.
Where director Clint Eastwood went all melodramatic in his last biopic ‘American Sniper’, here he keeps the pacing quick, the judgments direct, and the motives pure. If you’re looking for a complex, layered approach to character that plows the depths of a tortured soul riddled with self-doubt, insecurity, and guilt this is not the film for you. Even the perfunctory “court room” NTSB sequence at the end is refreshingly brisk.
For 2016 it’s nice to see heroism and heroes presented as a (much needed) example of humanity’s best. ‘Sully‘ is great option for anyone looking to leave a film feeling better for a change.