Only seven years after Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger became a national US hero when he had to make an emergency landing of US Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, saving the lives of every single one of his passengers after an encounter with a flock of geese, his heroic actions been developed into an immersive IMAX cinematic experience by veteran filmmaker Clint Eastwood.
Eastwood may not ooze with political compassion after his recent comments defending Trump but he sure makes decent movies that fully engage its audience with emotional sensitivity and thrilling drama, always aided by its phenomenal cast.
Whilst completely shot with IMAX cameras, there are no airs and graces, tricks or complicated plot lines to follow. Sully is a straight-forward, tell-it-as-it-is story of one man’s fight to save his name from those at corporate level who are just itching to place blame on him and his fellow pilot. Sully opens with a thrilling ride of a dream sequence of Sully crashing his plane – he wakes in his hotel bed, safe from harm but still reeling from his traumatic experience – this isn’t the only dream sequence we are privy to. Eastwood integrates numerous nightmarish scenarios within Sully’s dreams, one of which sees Sully taking a different decision to try and land at New York’s LaGuardia Airport but not quite making it as the plane crashes through the New York skyline and its giant skyscrapers – unnervingly reminiscent of that fateful day of 9/11.
Jumping back and forth between the lead up and interrogation from the National Transportation Safety Board – who are looking to place blame – and the recreation of the terrifying events that unfolded on board Flight 1549, the feeling of total immersion erupts quite unknowingly with its gripping moments which surprisingly don’t feel too heavy going. This could well be to the excellent placement of humour bobbing its end out of the water and mostly coming from the jaws of Eckhart, who delivers quick and punchy one-liners like a natural, “Can you believe they charge 5 bucks for a snickers? I could bankrupt the airline in 4 bites.”
Sully sees an ageing and completely grey Tom Hanks in the lead as Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who is quite clearly full of anguish and horrifyingly haunted, and Aaron Eckhart (who also appears in this week’s release of Bleed For This) as co-pilot Jeff Skiles. These heavyweight actors make their performances seem completely effortless, endearing themselves to everyone they met and ingratiating themselves on the audience who really wish they were our best friends with their calming exterior and ability to infuse humour to a worrying and stressful ordeal.
Engrossing, entertaining and hugging every corner of its IMAX sized frame, Sully sees Eastwood back on form and Hanks cement his reputation as a true acting heavyweight. Highly recommended.