By: David Caneppa
Edited by: Anthony Zangrillo
Sully is a biographical film of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who infamously landed US Airways Flight 1594 on January 14, 2009. The movie is based on his autobiography “Highest Duty: My search for What Really Matters”. The film stars Tom Hanks, is directed by Clint Eastwood and distributed by Warner Bros Entertainment direct the film. The movie gives the audience a deeper look into not only the events that happened on January 14, but also how it impacted Captain Sully personally and professionally.
Although we may have seen Captain Sullenberger on various interviews and media outlets after the events of flight 1594, what most people would not know if they haven’t picked up his book or seen this film is the investigation that took place after the events on the Hudson. The film shows us the various hearings Captain Sullenberger had to attend in order to defend his decision to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River. The investigations against him by the National Transportation Safety Board had claimed that there were ways to land at nearby airports without crashing. In response, Sullenberger argued that with both engines completely damaged, the data the NTSB originally collected was incorrect. Although a computer may see things one way, a human being facing those same circumstances would examine the problem differently.
Aside from the investigation aspect, the film also confronts Captain Sullenberger’s state of mind after the events on the Hudson. We see him questioning himself as to whether or not there was a way to land in a nearby airport without taking a huge risk. He also seemingly is portrayed to having some level of post-traumatic stress disorder, because he continuously envisions different outcomes of Flight 1594. The lack of sleep and constant jogging is displayed in the film as other mechanisms of both dealing with his decision and trying to find a way to clear his thoughts on his actions. We also see his co-pilot Jeff Skiles deal with similar issues, such as lack of sleep. However, Skiles unwaveringly supports and defends Sullenberger’s actions on that day, because Skiles witnessed how Sullenberger needed to act fast in order to save all 155 passengers aboard that plane.
Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Sullenberger couldn’t have been any better. Hanks respectable portrait of Sullenberger does not make the hero look larger than life for what he did but rather gives Sullenberger his credit by showing that his actions that were based on human instinct and not not any type of training. Indeed, Sullenberger’s primary goal was to preserve the 155 lives entrusted under his care.
On a final note, star Tom Hanks, director Clint Eastwood and the writers of this film should be praised for the film they’ve created. The movie does not over exaggerate the events that took place in both the spotlight and behind the scenes. The creative team kept everything to a respectful level that also helps audience members get a better understanding of what happened that day and how Captain Sullenberger dealt with and defended his decision. Most biographic films feel the need to exaggerate the events but sometimes simplicity is the best way to go. I recommend this film to those interested in the events of that day and to those who want to see how a regular person who made a decision he felt was correct, can become a hero.