You know his name: Captain Sully became a celebrity and a hero when he made a successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson river after losing both engines shortly after takeoff. The passengers, the media, and then the sully-tom-hanks-aaron-eckhart-slice-600x200world, praised him for his quick thinking and skill. His maneuver saved every soul on board. It was quickly labelled “The Miracle on the Hudson.” He made the rounds of late night talk shows, smiling politely as hosts feted him, but that smile was a facade.

What few of us realized at the time was that Captain Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles were going through private hell. While dealing with crippling flashbacks, they were basically put on trial by the National Transportation Safety Board, accused of making the wrong decision and endangering a plane full of passengers.

Sully, with 40 years of experience, knew in his gut that going into the river was the best option. The NTSB, however, maintain that computer simulations prove he could have made it back to La Guardia for a safe landing on an actual strip. All the people thrown into frigid waters, the cold and frightened babies, the weakened-heart old ladies, could all have been spared a terrifying crash-landing. Should Sully be held responsible for his actions?

Tom Hanks as Sully is spectacular. He deftly portrays a crumbling man, one whose confidence is badly shaken, who can’t escape the mental replaying of the incident, the assessment of the choices he made, effectively putting 155 960lives on the line, his own included. Aaron Eckhart plays Skiles, the right-hand man with an equally formidable mustache (what is it with pilots and mustaches?). Laura Linney has is relegated to an even smaller part, as the wife on the other end of a telephone. Both are fine, but this is clearly Hanks’ show, and Sully’s story. He’s the one not just with his reputation on the line, but his career and pension and ability to support his family in flux too.

Director Clint Eastwood plays it safe; in fact he even downplays what must have been a petrifying few minutes for the other 153 on board. What he may not have accounted for is how jarring Sully’s day-mares are to an audience, post 9-11 (and keeping in mind the movie hit theatres for its 15th anniversary). Sully keeps imagining that his plane is zipping through New York City’s skyline, missing and not missing buildings along the way. It hurts.

Where Eastwood excels, and always has, is in hero-worshiping, and Sully’s an easy target. Humble, grateful, stoic: just the kind of man that appeals to old Clint. But Sully’s not the only hero I see here. The flight attendants are brave. The air traffic controller is determined. Rescue workers are quick. Ordinary citizens lend a hand. Heroes come in lots of shapes and sizes. Not all wear uniforms. Maybe Clint should make a movie about one of them sometime.


19 thoughts on “Sully

  1. Christopher

    The movie sounds like a fascinating glimpse into the background that most of us who were in awe of Captain Sully didn’t know was going on. The important thing, though, is it inspired the greatest Tom Hanks joke ever.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. reocochran

    I am glad you liked it but am going to see “Storks” with grandies tonight 🙂 and tomorrow afternoon, the tear-jerker, “The Light between Two Oceans,” or something like that title! My girlfriend and I like corny movies and I liked Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave” and something else less mean character, and of course, Alicia Vikkander from “The Danish Girl.” Prepared to weep tomorrow. . .


  3. Liz A.

    I’ve heard good reviews and bad reviews for this one. Well, not “bad”. Kind of lukewarm. I’ll see this at some point, I’m sure. (Plane crashes fascinate me. I couldn’t tell you why.)


  4. Birgit

    I saw this movie….in the theatre! Great review and it is Hanks’ film. I thought Eastwood showed not only the fight they had to deal with after the crash but how they had to deal with the PTSD. I actually liked Aaron Eckhardt on this movie and wished he had more scenes because he gave a lighter touch at times. I actually felt that Eastwood showed how so many did help that day. . I felt it was intelligent and well acted


  5. Bun Karyudo

    I also had no idea that Captain Sullenburger and his co-pilot were given such a hard time afterwards. I was already pretty interested in this movie, though, because Tom Hanks is always so reliable.


  6. J.

    Sounds like one for Netflix. Wasn’t aware of the troubles afterwards, but it isn’t too surprising, as the airline and manufacturer etc. would be keen to deflect from the failure of the plane, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kmSalvatore

    i could have sworn i commented on this one …especially? oh well
    when this happened.. thats all that was on the news, and dont get me wrong i believe the guy is a hero. , but thats all that was on tv, i guess because i live in the state of New York. and every anniversary its brought up again, and now with the movie out.. there it is all over again. i gotta pass on this one..,it wont be watched here.


    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, they commented a bit on that in the movie. I think people felt that in New York City especially, it was nice to have a positive news story involving planes in their city.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. allendemir

    I agree with the hero worship bit, Eastwood does tend to make the protagonists in a lot of his movies fairly black and white at times. I never saw American Sniper. Some of the stuff I’ve read about the movie and the real guy made that film feel a little uncomfortably propaganda-ish to me.


  9. Pingback: Oscar Nominations 2017 | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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