Sully: Five Reasons You'll Love It
Many of you may remember the events of January 15th 2009, the day when U.S. Airways flight 1549, scheduled to fly from New York City to Charlotte in North Carolina, was struck by a flock of Canada geese shortly after its take-off from New York's La Guardia Airport. In a sequence of events dubbed the 'Miracle on the Hudson', both engines of the Airbus A-320 were immediately and irreparably damaged by the bird strike, forcing the aeroplane's pilot, Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, to make a forced water landing on the surface of the Hudson river.
That he did so successfully is the reason why all 150 passengers and the plane's crew survived the incident, and in the following days Sullenberger was hailed by the media as a hero, praised for the skill and quick thinking that undoubtably saved the lives of each and every person on the Charlotte-bound flight.
But even while Sullenberger was becoming a national hero in the eyes of the media, behind the scenes an investigation into the crash was taking place, one that could not only have ended his flying career but potentially also have seen the veteran pilot imprisoned.
It is both the incident and the investigation that took place in its aftermath that forms that basis for Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, a film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks in the titular role of Captain Sullenberger. Featuring a cast that includes Aaron Eckhart as Sullenberger's co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, alongside Laura Linney, Mike O'Malley, Anna Gunn and Valerie Mahaffey, the film opened in cinemas late last year and is set to arrive in stores on DVD and Blu-ray this coming Monday (April 17th). Here are five reasons why we think you'll love it...
Tom Hanks absolutely nails the part
You don't need us to tell you that Tom Hanks is a class act, but his portrayal of Captain Sullenberger is right on the money. The real Sully was paraded all over the media in the days and weeks that followed the incident on the Hudson river and was never any less than humble and dignified, insisting that the credit for his passengers' survival should go as much to his co-pilot and crew as to himself. Hanks captures this perfectly and it's hard to imagine anyone else who could have done justice to the role in quite the same way.
Even you're a frequent flyer, the film is a real eye-opener
As modest as Sullenberger may be about this incident, the film shows that the experienced captain made a series of split-second judgement calls and got every one of them spot on, even considering the exact spot on the river, between two ferry terminals, that would be best placed to enable a swift rescue – an important factor given the freezing temperature of the water in mid-January. It's also worth noting that even amongst the extremely rare incidences of successful water landings by commercial airliners, only one previous incident – a Russian airliner forced to ditch in St. Petersberg's Neva River in 1963 - resulted in the survival of all its passengers. They don't call it a miracle for nothing...
Clint Eastwood still knows how to handle a story
Eastwood may be deep into his ninth decade on planet Earth, but he still knows his way around a script. Aside from the white-knuckle-ride landing sequence that occurs very near to the beginning of the film, the rest of the film's narrative – which covers the resulting investigation – had all the potential to be very dry. Fortunately, Eastwood still has a knack for drama and it's largely thanks to his direction that the film remains absorbing throughout. The supporting cast are excellent in this regard too, particularly Aaron Eckhart in the role of Sullenberger's co-pilot.
The dream sequences are properly terrifying
Even though events panned out as well as anybody could have hoped, in the film Sullenberger is plagued by nightmares after the event in which he imagines all sorts of different, horrifying outcomes as he replays the incident in his mind, which bring some moments of real tension to the film and highlight just how different things could have been.
Despite everything, this is a proper feel-good film
It's a fact referred to (although not dwelled upon) in the film, but in the post-9/11 years New York needed a good news story. The fact that it got one involving an airliner would almost strain credulity if the story wasn't demonstrably true, and it's not just Sullenberger that the film pays tribute to. The man captaining the ferry that comes to the rescue in the film is in fact the actual ferry captain, not an actor. Same with the frogmen jumping into the freezing waters from a helicopter – they're all reliving the moment for the cameras and the decision to include them is a nice touch in what is already a heartwarming film. Just don't watch it on a plane, whatever you do...