An amazing true story of an amazing moment in the history of New York and of air travel. The “Miracle of the Hudson” is a story that everyone knew about, but this movie focused on something that I was unaware of.
Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger became a media darling after his monumental decision to land the airplane full of passengers he was piloting in the Hudson River after a bird strike on January 15, 2009. Little did I know that the investigation into the decision to land on the water could have ruined Sully’s career and created a sense of uncertainty within the American hero.
The film started off with the aftermath of the landing, as Sully (Tom Hanks) was dealing with the barrage of media as well as the investigation. Co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) was supportive of his co-worker and friend. As the investigation continued, Sully was feeling the pressure, reliving the potential disaster in dreams, not sleeping much, and worried that this could cost him everything. The movie only shows phone conversations between Sully and his wife Lorraine (Laura Linney), but I thought these were very effective showing how isolated Sully felt during this time and how his life affected his family.
Tom Hanks was exceptional in this real life role. I have to say that I never thought of him as Tom Hanks and he just seemed natural with his grey hair and mustache. Hanks as Sully is the everyman, and he pulled it off perfectly. He showed the stress that was building on the pilot as he began to doubt that he had made the correct choice.
Aaron Eckhart was also very solid in his supporting role. Honestly, Sully and Jeff were the only two characters who were developed to a large extent, but their camaraderie really helped this film. I was very glad that we did not see the typical “co-worker doubt the other worker” trope that happens all the time. Despite Sully’s own self-doubt, Jeff never once questioned whether or not Sully had made the right decision. I expected Eckhart to be on the opposite side of the fence, but I am definitely glad that was not the case.
The scenes of the airplane landing and the response of the air traffic controllers and the first responders was just unbelievably brilliant. I did see the film in IMAX and I was very glad that I did that. These crash scenes were so tense and realistic that they could take away your breath. The scenes of the response of all the people who helped save these 155 passengers was not only heroic, but downright moving. None of these characters were developed, but that did not take away from my feeling of pride as they were helping protect these passengers. When the person jumped from the helicopter to help save the woman in the water, it stirred some happiness inside me.
The film did drag at times before the film flashed back to the moments before the plane took off. These flashbacks are as good as it gets. The film is also pretty short, coming in at just around 96 minutes, however, since the actual event took about 202 seconds, the 90 minutes was a successful run time.
I enjoyed this movie a lot. Tom Hanks has another memorable performance and the scenes of the plane going down are as good as they get. Director Clint Eastwood has returned to form after a couple of weaker films as he shows the American hero who was Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger in the bright light of American pride. Sully is a great film.