Release Date: September 9, 2016
Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language
Grade: B+
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

“It’s not a crash. It’s a forced water landing”

usp-05820rcv2Sully pairs one of the most gifted actors of all time with the legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood (Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven). The remarkable Tom Hanks (Academy Award for Best Actor for Forrest Gump and Philadelphia) stars as America’s hero, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in Warner Bros Pictures dramatic biographical story behind the miracle that took place on the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. While the world heralded Sully for saving 155 souls aboard US Airways Flight 1549, an investigation was being conducted that endangered his reputation and career as an aviator.

“I’ve had 40 years in the air but in the end, I’m going to be judged by 208 seconds” 

usp-05865rv2 The film was shot almost entirely with ALEXA IMAX® 65mm cameras and you could tell from the opening scene. I had the feeling like I was right in the cockpit of the Airbus A320-200. Eastwood has directed 35 motion pictures. He is a genius at creating something so realistic and engaging that you feel like you are in it. I highly recommend viewing Sully on a large format screen to really appreciate it.

The screenplay by Todd Komarnicki, is based on the book, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Chelsey Sullenberger. The story is told in real time and flashbacks as Sully, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) relives the terrifying experience and faces questions from National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators.

usp-07014rv2As many of you know, Flight 1549 originated out of New York’s LaGuardia enroute to Charlotte, North Carolina on January 15, 2009. It was a Thursday and I will never forget hearing the news. Not long after departure, a large flock of Canadian geese struck the plane and destroyed both engines. Captain Sullenberger contacted air traffic control and tried to return to LaGuardia. Realizing that was not possible, he discussed attempting to land at Teterboro in New Jersey. He quickly recognized that was not probable. Left with no other options, Sully had to attempt an emergency water landing on the Hudson River.

Captain Sullenberger informed the passengers and crew to “brace for impact,” then piloted the plane to a water landing around 3:30 p.m. Every single passenger and crew member survived. Before leaving the aircraft, Sully made sure that everyone had evacuated the plane and then he retrieved the plane’s maintenance logbook.

No one warned us. No one said you are going to lose two engines at a lower altitude than any jet in history. This was dual engine loss at 2,800 feet followed by an immediate water landing with 155 souls on board. No one has ever trained for an incident like that. ~ Captain Sully


Eastwood’s film is balanced between turbulent, gripping scenes and the drama that unfolded after the calm pilot stands on the pier asking for a count. The film is about a man who is outstanding at his job and Hanks, with his snowy white hair and matching mustache, delivers another convincing performance as Time magazine’s second most influential hero of 2009.

usp-00346rv2Eastwood’s filming of the crash was extraordinary. He builds up the tension and allows it to dissipate by changing the scenes. Tom Stern’s cinematography was incredible. The various flight simulations at the hearing were informative and compelling. The supporting cast in roles such as Sully’s wife, union representatives and NTSB investigators, compliment Hanks.  I especially thought Eckhart (London as Fallen, The Dark Knight) was notable as first officer Jeff Skiles. It is one of his best performances.

In his shortest film to date (96 minutes), Eastwood once again delivers a film about character and heroism. And much like American Sniper and Million Dollar Baby, the protagonist inspires us to be better and make a difference. Eastwood nails the take-off and landing of Sully, now in theaters. ~A.S. MacLeod


Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger
Aaron Eckhart as First Officer Jeffrey Skiles
Laura Linney as Lorraine Sullengberger
Holt McCallany as Mike Cleary
Anna Gunn as Dr. Elizabeth Davis
Autumn Reeser as Tess Soza
Mike O’Malley as Charles Porter
Jamey Sheridan as Ben Edwards
Jerry Ferrara as Michael Delaney
Molly Hagan as Doreen Welsh
Max Adler as Jimmy Stefanik

About Leigh Ann Rassler