Sully – The Hero You Need – Review

Courtesy Warner Brothers

Traditionally, Labor Day is the sign Summer has ended, the leaves will be turning and those cool breezes will become harsh, bone chilling gusts in due time.

This year, Sully is your sign Hollywood is moving into Oscar season, where films like Nine Lives, Morgan, Tarzan and anything starring Zac Efron aren’t invited.

Tom Hanks stars as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger – a veteran airline pilot who has just faced one of the most unimaginable and harrowing scenarios ever experienced by any pilot.  In case you don’t remember, he is the captain of a US Airways jet attempting to take off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport when it hits a massive flock of geese, which knocks out both engines.

With no power and no chance to make it to any airport, Sully and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), land the plane on the Hudson River, saving all 155 people on board.

However, as the world hails Sully as a great American hero, the National Transportation Safety Board’s bureaucrats are grilling him to find out if he took the right course of action or put everyone’s life needlessly in peril.

Even though every single person in the theater knows how this story ends, director Clint Eastwood is able to bring an amazing, mesmerizing level of tension to Sully that makes a simple story grander and more epic than we could have imagined.

Don’t get me wrong.  What the crew and passengers faced is not inconsequential in any sense of the word, but it is a simple story Eastwood and the team are able to inflate as they reveal behind the scenes battles and make the incident come to life on screen.

Of course, the moments from Sully we will never forget are Eastwood’s re-creation of the 208 seconds from take off to incident to crash to rescue.

Eastwood makes us feel like we are on the plane, in the cockpit, and riding among the passengers as each crucial moment plays out, skillfully weaving in just enough personal stories and drama to tug at our hearts.

You feel the cramped aisles of the plane.

You hear the engines going out of commission and the eerie silence as the vehicle coasts through the air to possible doom.

More shockingly, you practically feel the impact of hitting the water and the panic among everyone on board as they try to evacuate to safety as the chilly waters pour into the fuselage.

Meanwhile, Hanks and writer Todd Komarnicki help exam our hero’s psyche, fears, and doubts in ways that make him an even greater hero and honorable person.

This is not a biopic, and the only stumbles in making this film are when Eastwood and team try to insert a few flashback-type scenes showing us incidents from Sully’s life.  They aren’t needed and add nothing to the main story.

Instead, Hanks adds soul and depth to a laconic man who speaks softly to mask the tumult stirring inside of him.  It’s a restrained struggle from a character who would never demonstratively show the pain raging inside.

Yet, Hanks doesn’t need grandiose displays to show us how Sully feels as his career lies in the balance and his family faces financial ruin.  More importantly, Hanks shows us Sully cares more about putting those people needlessly at risk and the implications of those actions as they weigh on his conscience.

You have to love it when two legends team up and deliver a tour de force like Sully.

3_5waffles_sml3 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Sully is rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language.