First Look Review: Sully


A fascinating dramatisation of a real life event that shocked the world. Hanks gives a performance that is worthy of an Oscar nomination. See this on the biggest screen possible.

  • 8

The images of United Airlines Flight 1549 are imprinted on the memories of many who were there that day, or saw the shocking news footage. Less than eight years after 9/11, New York had come so close to another aviation disaster. Inevitably, the dramatisation of the event arrives in Sully with acclaimed director Clint Eastwood at helm. In the leading role, Tom Hanks shows that he is still the go-to actor when it comes to needing a calm, collected, but assured performance.

The film starts a few days after the event. Captain Sullenberger is having nightmares about the impact of the crash and what could have happened if he and his co-pilot had not acted decisively. Captain Sullenberger’s actions were called into question, and numerous experts testify that he made the wrong choice and that the plane could have landed safely at another airport. The film shows Sully as a hero in the eyes of the media and the public, but a villain and a liability in the eyes of the aviation authority.

The scenes of the water landing itself are truly breath-taking. We see it from several different viewpoints and each time it hits home just how remarkable this story is. The most heart stopping moment, is when the camera zooms in on Hanks’ face and he utters the terrifying words: “Brace for impact”. All the emotion and fear is perfectly expressed in 3 short words and the impact of them is clear. Sully truly doesn’t know whether he has a chance of landing the plane, but Hanks exudes confidence and authority as he utters words that strike fear into his passengers.

Aaron Eckhart plays the first officer, Jeffrey Skiles and the interactions between him and Hanks give the film a real sense of friendship in adversity. As they face constant criticism and the potential risk of them losing their pilots license, they still stick together and stick to their convictions.

This film is being shown in IMAX, and it makes full use of this, especially during the plane landing. On such a big cinema screen, the scope of the incident is truly apparent and left me stunned by this piece of cinematic imagery. Every time the incident is seen, the film manages to give a new perspective and viewpoint to the point where it never seems repetitive. At just over 90 minutes, the film doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a fantastic piece of cinema. Hanks and Eckhart give fantastic performances, and we may see one, or both recognised come award season next year.

Sully (2016), directed by Clint Eastwood, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros Pictures. Certificate 12A.


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