Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Sully: Miracle on the Hudson film review


I saw this film at the Leeds/Bradford Odeon with my friends Sarah, Bev and Aj.
IMDB says: The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight's passengers and crew.
In this Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino) directed movie, written by Todd Komarnicki (Perfect Stranger, Resistance) based on the book 'Highest Duty' by Chesley Sullenberger (Face the Nation, Brace for Impact: The Chesley B. Sullenberger story) and Jeffrey Zaslow (60 Minutes), Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Big) plays Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger who glided his disabled plane into the frigid waters of the Hudson, saving the lives of all 155 people on board.  However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career, and that of his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart: The Dark Knight, Olympus Has Fallen).               
In the film, the official investigation by the National Transport Safety Board into the flight 1549 incident has concluded that the left engine was running at idle and not damaged, so Sully and Skiles have to attend a hearing to explain why they did not land at either LaGuardia or Teterboro airports as simulators had indicated it would have been possible.  One of the investigators, Charles Porter (Mike O'Malley: Concussion, Kurt's Dad in TVs Glee), asks if they had had enough sleep, if they had taken drugs or alcohol or if they have trouble at home and this sets up the premise that they are trying to blame the pilots rather than praise them.
Separated from their families the pilots stay in a hotel, Sully keeping in touch with his wife Lorraine (Laura Linney: Love Actually, Nocturnal Animals) via the phone.  The film features flashbacks of Sully learning to fly with LT Cook (Jeff Kober: TVs Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead), and the day of the incident.  These show more detail on the passengers, including Lucille Palmer (Delphi Harrington: Breathing Lessons, TVs Where the Heart Is), and the crew, such as Diane Higgins (Valerie Mahalfey: Seabiscuit, Jack and Jill),  plus those that helped on the day, like ferry team Captain Vincent Lombardi (playing himself), interspersed with the trial where the panel includes Dr Elizabeth Davis (Anna Gunn: Enemy of the State, TVs Breaking Bad). 
Kristine Johnson and Tommy McInnis in Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (2016)
Because of the media coverage at the time, we thought we knew what to expect from this movie, but it was surprising to learn that despite saving all those lives, Captain Sullenberger was investigated and made to go through a trial.  I am guessing it was because his heroic actions essentially rendered a very expensive plane unusable, but had he not made the right decision, not only would the plane be a write-off but there would have been considerable loss of life.  The fault, if there was one, lay with the birds.
Based on the co-written book, this story takes us through what it must have been like on the day for all those involved and shows us the best of the human spirit.  It is only natural to have doubts about the decisions you make under such circumstances, and much is made of this in the film.  The real action of the film is in the sequences that show the actual landing of the plane in the Hudson river.  We go through the events as though we as viewers were passengers or Sully and although there are several repetitions of the incident from different perspectives, we are thrust along right with them each time, and it does not feel like it is labouring the point  Our imaginations place us in the worst case scenario of being told to adopt the brace position, of landing on and then having to go out on water, the freezing 36 degrees of the Hudson, and wonder what we would have done.  Could we have made a quick correct decision and had the skill to land the plane safely had we been in Sully's place? Would we have panicked and gone into the water if we had been a passenger?
This is the first collaboration between Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood on film, though both have experience of true life stories of real people and no doubt this will have helped them deliver what was an excellent film.  The performances are top-notch all round and though the action is palpable, it avoids any over-dramatization or unnecessary sentimentality.  It feels as real as if you were there and you root for Sully's character throughout.
Trivia: The cockpit voice recording is highly sensitive in nature. It would never be played in front of hundreds of people like in the movie. In fact, it is illegal for the NTSB to release any portion of the recording to the press.  The actual Airbus aircraft involved in the incident was recovered from the Hudson and placed on display at the Carolina's Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte was the original destination for this flight. Footage shown during the credits, with the actual passengers and crew, was shot at the museum. The production filmed scenes at the New York Marriott Downtown hotel, where the original crash landing survivors were brought, after the accident.  Chesley Sullenberger was present at the studio. He supported the movie and helped it to reflect reality. 

Shane P. Allen in Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (2016)
Don't forget to stay for the credits which features photos of the real plane and rescue, followed by a brief video with real people from that day including the passengers and Captain Sullenburger.
Tagline: The untold story behind the miracle on the Hudson.                                          9/10
Adam Boyer and Wilbur Fitzgerald in Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (2016)
#SullyMiracleOnTheHudson #TomHanks #AaronEckhart #ClintEastwood #Odeon

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