Clint Eastwood’s Sully dramatizes the “Miracle on the Hudson,” when a US Airways plane, having experienced engine failure, was forced to land in that river on January 15, 2009. Thrilling and well-paced, the water landing is shown out of order, repeatedly, and from multiple vantage points, in part to highlight all the individuals, from air traffic controllers to ferry boat crews, whose efforts led to “The Miracle.” There are two main themes in Sully. The first concerns the dichotomy between the public image of a hero and the private inner torment of a hero. We witness this when the eponymous hero pilot (Tom Hanks) swims in his own sea of fear, doubt, and anxiety, shown effectively through nightmares, daydreams, and hallucinations. The second theme concerns the evil bureaucracy that undermines the striving of people just doing their job. We witness this as Sully is brought before and interrogated by The National Transportation Safety Board. Although this episode is rather fictionalized, it does provide conflict and a tearjerky climax. While Sully is generally engrossing, there are scenes that drag. Namely all scenes with Laura Linney (who plays Sully’s wife). Her lachrymose overwrought delivery is probably as much Eastwood’s fault as the maudlin piano music, composed by Eastwood, that her scenes are set to. This movie isn’t perfect—neither are heroes.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White