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Film Review: “Sully” splashes into theaters and saves the day

Grade: A

All New Yorkers most likely regard Sept. 11, 2001 as the darkest day for their city. It was a day marred with tragedy, but it also brought the city and its people together in a way they had never been before. Nearly eight years later, on Jan. 15, 2009, New York City averted what could have been its second grave tragedy in less than a decade. Instead, it came to be a day known for the heroism of airplane pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the rest of the crew of U.S. Airways Flight 1549. The events of that day, dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson” and the subsequent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation are depicted with great depth and admiration in Clint Eastwood’s biographical drama “Sully”.

For all undergraduate college millennials, you may have been anywhere between 11 and 14 at the time this happened, therefore you may have bleak images of the events of that day. An adaptation such as this is a welcoming experience for that reason, because it helps us recover some of those past memories and allows us to ask ourselves the standard question, “Where was I when this happened?” The filmmakers also took the experiences of some of the passengers and crew — including Sullenberger himself — to help recreate the 208 seconds from the time of the bird strike to the forced water landing in the Hudson River. This was a nice touch, considering before nobody could visualize what it was like inside the cabin of Flight 1549 before the bird strike or even just after it took off from LaGuardia Airport.

Sullenberger’s actions, as portrayed in the film by legendary actor Tom Hanks, contributed to saving the lives of all 155 souls on board the jet. Hanks portrayed Sullenberger as being worried about the safety of his passengers, as well as about the NTSB’s investigation into his actions on that day and his decision to ditch the jet in the Hudson River. From this, you got a sense that this is what anybody would really feel like if they were in Sullenberger’s shoes. Sitting right beside him in the cockpit was First Officer Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), who was flying the jet at the time of the bird strike. Eckhart gave Skiles the impression that he valued Sullenberger’s skill and trusted his decision to land on the Hudson River.

“Sully” might just be the best biographical drama film of the year and there are a few good reasons why. First off, you have the stellar acting and characterization that is brought out in the performances of Hanks and Eckhart and even in some of the major members of the NTSB investigation board, of which one is played by former “Breaking Bad” star Anna Gunn. Then, there’s the storyline, which seems to be taken straight out of Quentin Tarantino’s figurative textbook on nonlinear narratives, but is twisted in such a manner that only Eastwood would know how to do. The most gripping part is how it elicited unprecedented emotions that made you feel like you were along for the ride.

Driving the tale of the events that happened seven years ago now was the suspense offered by the NTSB’s worrying and pulse-pounding evidence against Sullenberger’s bold decision and his personal struggle to overcome the oncoming symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. “Sully” makes you wonder what would’ve happened if even the slightest change was made to the occurrences of that Thursday afternoon.

What occurred on that fateful day is absolutely insane, so to have a movie depicting (with accurate description) the events of that day is an unbelievable experience and in light of the recent anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the timing for this movie could not be better. This film will be in theaters for the next few weeks, so go out with some friends and enjoy a great show.

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