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Review: Sully (2016)

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Director: Clint Eastwood

Writers: Todd Komarnicki (screenplay), Chesley Sullenberger (book) (as Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger)

Stars: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney

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In January 2009 the headlines were dominated by the footage of a US Airways plane on the Hudson River in New York. The airline had suffered from engine damage not long after taking off when a flock of birds flew into the engines forcing the landing. There wasn’t enough time to turn the plane around and land on one of the available runways, so pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger had no choice but to crash land the plane on the famous river saving the lives of all 155 passengers on board.

                Clint Eastwood’s film focuses on the story surrounding the aftermath of the incident as an inquest is held with the firm belief that the plane could have turned and landed at a nearby airport avoiding the need to crash and destroy the airline. Sully discovers that he doesn’t just have to deal with the nightmares of the incident that begin to dominate his life, but the accusations made against him which question his 42 year career as a pilot.

                The film is based on the autobiography “Highest Duty” written by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow and is cleverly patterned with the integration of sequences which highlight the effects that the incident had on Sully, despite his hero status. Tom Hanks takes the lead role of Sully complete with white hair and moustache and it is extremely difficult to tell the real Sully from the actor. Hanks, as always, gives a performance of such magnitude that it is no surprise that he is ranked as one of the world’s best actors, but he does so in a manner which seems so easy for him to portray. The subtle nature of his mannerisms are magnetised to an Oscar worthy performance once again, but, as the story suggests, he isn’t the only hero. Aaron Eckhart plays the role of First Officer Jeff Skiles who, alongside Hanks, really brings out a performance of true talent offering some of the movies more comedic moments, but also displaying the support and friendship he had with Sully. Laura Linney plays the role of Sully’s wife and despite the two sharing no screen time, she plays the fact that she has to try and struggle to support her husband from a distance encouragingly well.

                The scene of the plane crash landing and the subsequent panic that follows is up there with some of Hollywood’s finest moments and Eastwood really encapsulates on the tension, despite us all knowing the outcome. Away from the action, it really is the story of what happens next that draws the interest in the movie and the experience and knowledge that Sully had which he uses to defend himself. The fact that he could be even questioned on his actions was ludicrous enough and he earns his stature as a hero with great modesty and shares the wealth with those alongside him.

                With the announcement of the 2017 Oscar nominations just weeks away, there is no doubt that this will be up there among the contenders and, even possibly, earn the famous golden statue in the process.

Trailer: