By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
On Jan. 15, 2009, Captain Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles of Flight 1549 struck a flock of birds, lost both engines and were forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River. Narrowly escaping the jaws of death, the duo managed to safely land and save the lives of all 150 passengers and five crew onboard.
Since that invigorating day more than seven years ago, Sullenberger and Skiles have both been widely regarded as heroes. Director Clint Eastwood has taken it into his own hands to encapsulate all of the energy, tension and emotions in the air from that day. The new film “Sully” successfully places viewers in the cockpit while the horrific situation unfolded.
Legendary actor Tom Hanks portrays Sullenberger. Known for his versatility in acting, from an animated toy cowboy to Saturday Night Live skits in the mid-90s, Hanks also is not shy to portray a lead in an intense-paced film. Besides obviously dawning a close representation of how Sullenberger looks in real life, Hanks does a phenomenal job of portraying a pilot desperately, yet calmly, attempting to keep all on-board the flight safe through a well-executed and short landing scene. Eastwood depicts Sullenberger’s modesty throughout the entirety of the movie, as if he was just doing his job, despite being the hero everyone needed. Through all of the chaotic-nature of the situation, Hanks does a good job of keeping his role collected.
Along with the fantastic acting job of Hanks, actor Aaron Eckhart, famous for his portrayal of Two-Face in “The Dark Knight,” portrays Skiles, and is a worthy choice of having done so. The action of the film, while largely involves the actual plane incident, also involves the legals issues that arose from the water-landing. Federal officials question Sullenberger and Skiles and subject both of them to an investigation which could cost them their flying licenses. It is arguably as eye-widening as the plane scenes and adds to the realism of the film, showing more of the behind-the-scenes to the entire Flight 1549 incident.
Eastwood also touches upon how Sullenberger actually has a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident, haunted in his mind by what could have happened and how things could have went horribly wrong. Eastwood captures effectively disturbing 9/11 imagery in those scenes, and it’s very moving, setting in the darkness of those realizations into the minds of viewers.
The only downside to “Sully” is that at times, it feels like it is dragged out a bit much. As the actual rescue of the passengers took merely 24 minutes, a chunk of the film’s 96-minutes is spent getting to know background passengers who need to be saved by Sully. Despite that, the action of the plane scenes and the tension of the legal issues and personal in-depth analysis of Sullenberger’s mind post-plane landing make up for it.
“Sully” is a gripping visual representation of the events that unfolded that cold January morning. With the believable acting and edge-of-your-seat moments and rising action, “Sully” an informative thriller.