Sully is the one where the studio had to add “Miracle on the Hudson” to the UK title because most people outside of the US wouldn’t remember the nickname of pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger (played by Tom Hanks) who pulled a Homer when both engines failed soon after take-off following an attack by idiotic geese, and he landed the A320 airbus in the river, on January 15th, 2009.
He’s worked as a pilot for 42 years, yet he’s only going to be judged on 208 seconds on an A320 plane; we see him having nightmares about the event, he starts to doubt himself about the actions he took, and he’s classed as a national hero, yet the airline aren’t happy because there’s a ton of compensation claims to settle.
In 96 minutes, Hanks trudges through his most perfunctory role to date. This would’ve been a great story at the time, and I remember the news reports, but it doesn’t exactly make great viewing. He states he knows he’s the only person who could’ve done that landing and saved everyone, but the bigwigs are telling him that he had every opportunity to safely return to Laguardia airport, which he disputes. The problem, however, is partly because the interrogation scenes on his actions are embiggened in terms of being more intense than they were in reality, and partly because I can see how this has been made as a jingoistic feel-good movie due to there being no fatalities, but the story is paper-thin and there’s just nothing to get excited about. We’ve seen planes crash-land in movies many times before and this offers nothing new whatsoever.
Time is also filled by showing some of the passengers before they take their seats, then in the plane, and later on the phone to their loved ones after their survive the brief excursion, all in a bid to ramp up the ‘human factor’. You just DON’T care.
Aaron Eckhart takes the role of Sully’s co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, but like everything else in which I can remember seeing him in the movies, he coasts through it on autopilot (pun intended) and would make a corpse look animated. For whatever happens to him, you just DON’T care.
If you hang about for end credits, like me, you’ll see the real Sully and passengers in an aircraft hanger talking briefly about their experiences, with some naming their seat number. Again, you just DON’T care.
So, how do you turn a situation lasting 208 seconds into an engaging movie that everyone must see, including on an IMAX screen??! …You don’t.
Running time: 96 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
Format: 2.35:1 ARRIRAW (6.5K); 1.90:1 (IMAX version)
Released: December 2nd 2016
Director: Clint Eastwood
Producers: Clint Eastwood, Frank Marshall and Allyn Stewart
Screenplay: Todd Komarnicki (based on the book “Highest Duty” by Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow)
Music: Christian Jacob and Tierney Sutton Band
Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger: Tom Hanks
Jeff Skiles: Aaron Eckhart
Diane Higgins: Valerie Mahaffey
Lucille Palmer: Delphi Harrington
Charles Porter: Mike O’Malley
Ben Edwards: Jamey Sheridan
Elizabeth Davis: Anna Gunn
Mike Cleary: Holt McCallany
Lorraine Sullenberger: Laura Linney
Egyptian Driver: Ahmed Lucan
Herself: Katie Couric
Himself: David Letterman (archive footage)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.