Sully | Clint Eastwood & Tom Hanks pilot Miracle on the Hudson movie to success

Sully Tom Hanks Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger
(Image credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture)

Sully Tom Hanks Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger

The untold story behind the miracle on the Hudson 

Displaying the same brisk, no-nonsense professionalism as their film’s hero, Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks do a terrific job of recreating the incredible exploit of airline pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who famously landed his stricken Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River in January 2009.

Sully’s feat boggles belief. His plane had been struck by a flight of geese seconds after take off from La Guardia airport, disabling both engines. That surely spelled doom. Yet we all know how things turned out. The quick-thinking Sully used the Hudson as a landing strip and everyone on board survived.

Less skilful hands would find it hard building climactic tension out of this much-publicised happy ending. But Eastwood and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki find ways of keeping us gripped, circling around the main event and paying as much attention to what happened after the plane ditched in the Hudson as to the flight itself.

Sully Tom Hanks Aaron Eckhart

A hero or a fraud?

Sully finds himself thrust into the media spotlight. Worse still, he finds himself subject to a grilling from the National Transportation Safety Board. Their grim representatives suggest that Sully needless endangered the lives of his passengers and crew. He could have made it back to La Guardia or to nearby Teterboro airport in New Jersey, they insist. And computer simulations appear to back them up. Will Sully’s instinctual reaction be vindicated? Is he a hero or a fraud?

Sporting white hair and matching moustache, Hanks radiates everyman decency, so who we are rooting for is clear. And Sully’s decency extends to sharing the credit. From calm co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) and the equally cool air stewards, down to the passengers and rescue workers, everyone did their bit. As Sully himself says with understated pride, ‘We did our job’.

Certificate 12. Runtime 96 mins. Director Clint Eastwood

Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.