Movie Review – Sully


On January 15, 2009 US Airways flight 1549 departed from LaGuardia Airport in New York City for service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state via Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. At 3:27pm local time, just over 2 minutes since takeoff, during it’s initial climb to 15,ooo feet, the Airbus A320-214 jet crossed paths with a flock of Canadian Geese at 2,800 feet. The multiple bird strikes killed both of the plane’s engines. Flight 1549 was losing speed though still gaining altitude and at its highest altitude of 3,060 feet, the plane began to fall. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks)  took control of the plane and with only a few moments to decide on where (or how) to land. Sully and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) made the call to land in the Hudson River and the rest is history. 

The Flight Crash Investigators of the National transportation Safety Board is tasked with recreating that history to determine to cause and best solutions to any accident. On the surface it seems like a witch hunt, but the NTSB has a job to do and while Sully is a national hero in the press, the fate of his 40 year career in the cockpit, is in the hands of a team of government investigators. 

A modern-day Jimmy Stewart, Tom Hanks usually excels in the role of the mild-mannered everyman, destined for greatness and his portrayal of Captain Sully isn’t par for the course. In interviews shortly after the ordeal, back in 2009; Sully became a media darling. The film, based on Sully’s 2009 memoir Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters, gives a bit of insight into what it’s like to be shoved into the spotlight, when people behind the scenes questioned his every move. The imagery of seeing the catastrophic alternatives to Sully’s landing, evokes the imagery, especially with a release 2 days before the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Planes tumbling aimlessly into midtown Manhattan is ironically troubling. The greatest tragedy on US soil since World War II is home of one of the greatest aviation water landings ever. An event summarized by a single word: Miracle.

Verdict: A

Rated:  PG-13 @ 96 mins

Note: The film was completely filmed with IMAX cameras. It would be worth the extra bucks to see the film in a ‘traditional’ IMAX theater with a 4K projector. Locally, here in Washington, DC AMC Uptown and The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum (both Dulles and Downtown) are giant screen experiences that could enhance your moviegoing experience. 

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