As the nation remembers those who lost their lives during the attacks on the World Trade Center 15 years ago, it is the perfect time to revisit one of the more optimistic New York stories in recent memory. During times such as these, people need to be reminded of all the good that still exists in this world, and “The Miracle on the Hudson” is one such story that inspires so many to this day. “Sully” is directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the man who famously landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River.
At first glance, this seems like a film that could easily be done in half an hour. Some geese fly into plane engines, the captain responds accordingly and lands the plane in the river, the passengers evacuate, everybody makes it out alive and Captain Sully is hailed as a national hero. The end, right? Not quite. Clint Eastwood wasn’t content with simply retelling the story of a flight gone wrong. “Sully” is an extremely personal story of a man who was just trying to do his job, and the toll that a near-death experience can have on a human being.
The film explores the investigation of Captain Sully’s decision to land in the Hudson instead of attempting a return to LaGuardia Airport. These events are presented in a nonlinear fashion, showing both the praise and criticism that Captain Sully dealt with in the days following the incident before showing the audience exactly what happened on that day.
With this format, the filmmakers risked this film coming off as too “Hollywood,” or trying to overdramatize a cut-and-dry affair, but luckily that’s not the case with “Sully.” As frustrating as it is to watch this man undergo so much scrutiny when every soul on that plane made it out alive, the film does a good job of not vilifying those conducting the investigation who were also just doing their jobs. Many films based off of true events sacrifice telling what really happened in favor of making certain people look good, but this film prioritizes the truth above all.
Everything in this film feels genuine, from the dialogue to the impressive visual effects. However, the biggest reason to see this movie is for Hanks’ performance. With a career like his that’s already filled with exceptional performances, it can be easy to take his greatness for granted. But make no mistake, Hanks still has “it” and makes a strong case for another Academy Award nomination.
He does an incredible job conveying Sully’s discomfort with his overnight celebrity status, as well as the self-doubt that begins to creep in after constantly hearing that he could have done more to ensure the safety of the 155 passengers. This film takes a figure that many of us have elevated to hero status and also successfully supports those expectations without forgetting to make him a compelling and relatable character.
More than six years after the real “Miracle on the Hudson,” the film version finally hits the big screen and does not disappoint in the least. With the combined talents of Eastwood behind the camera and Hanks in the front of it, “Sully” will not only resonate in the hearts of New Yorkers, but it will remind us all to appreciate the real heroism of those who put the lives of
others before themselves.