Sully (4 stars)


Tom Hanks is impressively understated in Clint Eastwood's riveting 'Miracle on the Hudson' drama

Regularly hailed as an actor's director, Clint Eastwood brings a craftsman's touch to the true story of the 2009 'Miracle on the Hudson'. Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger became an instant American icon when he successfully ditched a US Airways passenger jet on the Hudson River after a bird strike knocked out two engines. And in Tom Hanks, Eastwood finds an actor perfectly in tune with this tale of unassuming heroism.

Todd Komarnicki's script, based on Sullenberger's own book, starts after the celebrated event takes place, forcing the audience to experience with Sully (Hanks) how the crash is painfully replayed over and over again, both inside his head and during investigative hearings. While the public immediately hail Sully as a messiah, the National Transportation Safety Board are portrayed as being officious and hostile, a fictitious detail that provides Eastwood's film with its dramatic conflict.

The film's preoccupation with Sullenberger's internal trauma requires just a little of such contrivance to make a simple point: that human beings are not machines. 'Life is not a video game,' exclaims one character as the crash simulations are examined, and the easily understood crux of the film is that Sully's response to the potentially deadly situation was the best possible one in the circumstances.

Aaron Eckhart provides strong support as co-pilot Jeff Skiles, but the film belongs to Hanks, giving the kind of understated performance that enlivened Captain Phillips and Bridge of Spies, and Eastwood, who skilfully balances hard-fact re-enactments of the crash and aftermath with haunting visual evocations of Sully's sense of alienation amid a growing media circus. Sullenberger's heroics made for a great news story, now, in the capable hands of director and star, they are the foundations for a riveting, cinematic drama.

General release from Fri 2 Dec.

Sully: Miracle on the Hudson

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 36min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Clint Eastwood
  • Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
  • UK release: 2 December 2016

The story of pilot Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger (Hanks), who became an unassuming hero in 2009 after successfully ditching a US Airways Airbus 320 on the Hudson River. Eckhart gives strong support as co-pilot Jeff Skiles but the film belongs to Hanks, whose understated performance, with the skilful re-enactments of the…