The remarkable real life drama behind the “Miracle on the Hudson” when an Airbus A320 passenger jet landed in the Hudson River is the subject of the latest Tom Hanks biopic. With ‘Sully,’ Hanks has shown once again that he is peerless when it comes to portraying flesh-and-blood personalities caught in difficult and trying circumstances while maintaining their dignity and humanity, as he managed to do in such previous films as ‘Bridge of Spies’ and ‘Captain Phillips.’
While the world has always known Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to be a hero for his masterful soft belly-landing of US Airways Flight 1549 into the calm waters of the Hudson with no casualties after a catastrophic bird-strike which disabled both engines in January of 2009, it is perhaps less well known that, behind the scenes, computer modeling and flight simulations conducted during the subsequent NTSB investigation suggest that he could have diverted the stricken airliner to nearby airfields at LaGuardia or Teterboro. All the second-guessing and doubt merely formed the backdrop of director Clint Eastwood’s latest effort, who kept the movie's focus on Sully himself not simply as a pilot under intense scrutiny but also as a man and loving father and husband.
Fascinating, insightful and fundamentally human, ‘Sully’ represents yet another understated triumph for Hanks and Eastwood. Hanks is fully in his element as the earnest, caring and humble airline pilot and ex air force “Phantom Phlyer” while Eastwood turned in what may be his best directorial effort since ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ Not just a tale of one man's vindication, ‘Sully’ is also a portrait of courage under pressure and how making the right decision in a life-or-death situation over the course of a mere three minutes twenty-eight seconds can make all the difference to the lives of 155 people.