Editor’s Notes: Sully is out on in its respective home video format December 20th.
On a cold winter morning during a routine US Airways flight out of La Guardia, the plane hit a flock of geese, knocking out both engines. The captain, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tried to return the plane to La Guardia but calculated that he would never make it. Trying to land at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, too, would be futile and end in disaster. The events leading up to this life-or-death quandary, the landing itself, and the aftermath are the subject of Sully (Warner Home Video), a character study of the man whose knowledge, skill, dedication, and quick thinking saved all 155 lives on board.
Director Clint Eastwood shows what happened after the emergency landing on the Hudson River as the Federal Aviation Administration conducts a detail investigation and hearing to determine whether the plane could have been brought safely back to an airport. Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) are questioned intensively by the panel members, who explain that the results of repeated flight simulations indicate that an airport landing would have been possible. A cloud forms over Sully. Did he do the right thing?
The actual landing and rescue were shown widely on news programs back in 2009. In the movie, with the assistance of computer manipulation, we’re back to that frigid morning in January as passengers slide down emergency chutes and stand on the plane’s wings.
Hanks turns in a solid performance as Sullenberger, a man extremely confident that he did the right thing who begins to doubt his actions when confronted with news that one of the engines was still working when he ditched the plane in the river. A few scenes feature Sully telephoning his concerned wife Lorraine (Laura Linney) at home 3000 miles away while waiting in New York for the inquiry to conclude. Despite TV’s round-the- clock coverage referring to the pilot as a miracle worker and hero, Sully feels he was only doing his job. After the landing, he is obsessed with accounting for every one of his passengers and crew. Hanks is expert at playing humble and noble, and his Sullenberger is a fine example of perfect casting.
The film is reminiscent of a Frank Capra movie, especially Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which a brave, self-assured man must stand up to an institution, relying on only his integrity and honesty.
When the movies tackle a real-life event, they have a responsibility to portray events and characters with reasonable accuracy and not too much dramatic license. “Sully” assumes that responsibility seriously, taking us into the mind of Capt. Sullenberger as he copes with the unforeseen results of his own actions when he becomes a reluctant media celebrity.
Rated PG-13, Sully is a tightly edited movie that tells the story the media never did. While the press was touting the pilot as a hero and celebrating that he saved every life on board, behind the scenes things didn’t look so rosy.
Extras on the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include the featurettes “Moment by Moment: Averting Disaster on the Hudson,” “Sully Sullenberger: The Man Behind the Miracle,” and “Neck Deep in the Hudson: Shooting Sully.” A digital HD copy is included.