Flight is one of my favourite films, and follows the story of fictional pilot Whip Whittaker, who safely lands a faulty plane saving everyone onboard. What proceeds is a story about his livelihood and the aftermath of his actions and how it will affect him. When Sully was announced, there was an air of familiarity, as it was another film about a pilot saving a flailing plane and how his actions were faced afterwards, much like Flight, except this one is real. This is based on true events, and rather terrifying events. Flight and Sully share similar themes and story, and my word, Sully is a powerful and incredible movie.
I remember being in school when I heard about Pilot Chelsea Sullenberger’s incredible feat in which he safely landed a failing plane on the Hudson River with 150 souls onboard, upon landing on the river there were miraculously no deaths or serious injury. There is no question about it, what he did was unparalleled in bravery yet hugely risky. It's no wonder a film adaptation about his actions was made, this is a fascinating character piece with scenes of terror that are so impactful, it feels as if you're watching the event for real thanks to realistic and seamless visuals as well as strong attention to detail in terms of how the airport and air traffic control teams reacted and dealt with the situation.
What struck me most was the horrifying visions Sully had, obviously a man going through such an event would play with your mind as you wouldn't exactly get over a near death experience with ease. These visions see Sully's plane crashing into upstate New York, PTSD affected the pilot and it's a hard watch knowing what could've happened if Sully didn't have the experience behind him. Tom Hanks is one of those performers who sinks into a role and you forget you're watching an actor. With jet white hair, a moustache, a nervous demeanour yet calm approach to the airline investigators, Hanks embodies Chelsea Sullenberger and grounds him, I think this is one of his best performances in a career full of them. Aaron Eckhart, too, delivers one of his best performances, as Sully's co-pilot Jeff Skiles, he's quite the opposite to Sully, as he is a bit more fiery and blunt under investigation, and he tries to keep Sully feeling positive, taking him for runs around the block and proving his worth by emphasising his years of experience and knowledge.
Clint Eastwood directs with such confidence, relying on his actors and the richness of the real-life story to craft a tense and believable biographical drama. Every scene is paced really smoothly, there are no fast cuts, spinning cameras and crazy, intricate moves, the frames remain steady and Eastwood excels in building up, something a film like this needs. Surprisingly, the film opens with Sully and Skiles mid-investigation, and not the incident. I liked the structure, instead of throwing us straight into the crash, we are given meaty sequences of what the pilots were faced with, and also how Sully's family life and career were put on the firing line. Laura Linney is great as always, though her part isn't too hefty, a shame for an actress with calibre like Linney's, but she displays enough emotion to show Hanks' Sully's predicament and what it could do to the couple.
As for the pivotal plane sequence, me and my Dad who I saw the film with, were on edge. My Dad isn't much of a moviegoer but I managed to persuade him to watch it with me and on multiple occasions he exclaimed "My word this is frightening". Much like 2016's Deepwater Horizon, there isn't a single shot that shouts out CGI, as the events are seamlessly recreated. The impact of the crash hits hard, and the shots of the plane flying dangerously low as people in buildings nearby watch on in fear really grabs you, this is one of the most tense sequences of 2016 film. The way the film cuts from onboard the crashing plane to the air traffic control team puts you in the moment, conveying the fear of the passengers as well as the guilt that one of the control team members feels, whom thought he could've done more to save the endangered plane.
This is a brilliant piece of film, I highly recommend it, the critics were right with this one as it's a cracker! Tom Hanks is excellent as always, and the supporting cast work wonders too, and Clint Eastwood is terrific behind the camera. The ending provides an upbeat outlook which is surprising for a man who was facing insurmountable odds, and Jeff Skiles' reply when asked by an investigator "Anything you would have done differently if you, had to do it again? is "Yes. I would've done it in July" left the whole cinema chuckling and leaving on a positive note rounds out Sully as a hugely enjoyable yet compelling slice of drama cinema. Rating: 9/10