Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
|Featuring:|| Tom Hanks … Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger
Anna Gunn … Dr. Elizabeth Davis
Aaron Eckhart … Jeff Skiles
Laura Linney … Lorraine Sullenberger
Sam Huntington … Jeff Kolodjay
Autumn Reeser … Tess Sosa
Jerry Ferrara …
Jeff Kober … L.T. Cook
Mike O'Malley … Charles Porter
“The untold story behind the miracle on the Hudson”
Director Clint Eastwood returns with yet another heroic film based on a true story. But the hero in this particular story isn’t a war hero, like we saw in 2015’s “American Sniper.” The hero here is Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks), better known as Sully. Sully is a veteran pilot for the now retired airline, US Airways. The date is January 15th, 2009 and Captain Sullenberger is preparing for a short flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. However, this routine flight for Sully is going to put his flight skills to the test as the plane collides with a flock of geese shortly after take-off. With 155 souls on board, Sully and First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) need to act fast and decide what is best to do in this perilous situation. Should they return to LaGuardia? Newark? A private airport? The Hudson River? But the question still remains… do they have time for any of these options?
No spoiler here. Sully and Skiles successfully land flight US Airways flight 1549… but into the Hudson River. All lives may have been saved, but it was still one intense and freezing cold rescue mission. Sully may be seen as a hero by many, but now the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) is on the case. Did Sully really have to land in the Hudson? Surely, he had enough time to turn around, safely land at LaGuardia, and prevent this big wet and cold mess altogether. Or could he? Through many hearings and investigations, Sully faces much pressure and anxiety as he shares his side of the story and tries to convince the NTSB that the Hudson was his only option for a safe landing. The NTSB may not be persuaded by Captain Sullenberger’s remarks, but time will tell that both Sully and Skiles knew exactly what they were doing in the cockpit without any engines.
“Sully” shares a terrific story about a man who is a hero, yet he certainly doesn’t feel like one. Mr. Eastwood does a solid job at telling this story and weaves through the flashbacks and present day storytelling elements quite well. Of course, Tom Hanks steals the show with an excellent portrayal of Captain Sullenberger. His character is mild-mannered yet believable, and Aaron Eckhart delivers a strong supporting role. The script was tightly written, and the story itself is quite engaging. Eastwood does an excellent job of stirring emotions within his audience. The only areas where “Sully” falls short are the moments in the film where scenes begin to drag a bit and the portrayal of the NTSB is just a tad overbearing. They are definitely seen as the enemy, when all they were trying to do was their job.
The content for concern in “Sully” is relatively light, as the closest we get to sexual content is seeing a shirtless man wrapped with a towel and sitting in a sauna. A fan of Sully’s gives him a kiss on the cheek and says that it was from her mom, and also mentions that her mom is single. Sully replies, “Tell your mom, thank you, but I’ve got a girl at home.” He’s a happily married man. A married couple is seen fully clothed in bed as Sully calls them in the middle of the night.
The film is more perilous than it is violent. Sully has a dream that his flight crashes into New York City. We see the plane diving to the ground as it hits a building. The scene quickly cuts away as he wakes up. While still traumatized by the whole event, Sully looks out a window and envisions a plane crashing into the city once more. On Flight 1549, from the cockpit we see the collision with the geese. There isn’t any blood, but we later see the engines burning up. Though not violent, the entire flight sequence is very intense, as the pilots struggle with maneuvering the plane and we see terrified passengers. We see the plane landing on the river and the entire freezing cold rescue mission. Some characters get minor injuries.
The language is the largest downfall of the film. It’s brief and scattered, but we still hear a softer spoken f-word, half a dozen s-words, and a small handful of milder profanities including h**l, d**n, b*stard, a**, and the phrase “son of a b***h.” God’s name is misused about three times and Jesus’ name is abused once. A character mentions “giving the finger.”
Alcohol content is limited, as one scene takes place in a bar, and Sully has one sip of his drink. The NTSB question if Sully and Skiles had anything to drink before their flight or if they consumed any drugs. They both deny.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
“Sully” is filled with an abundance of positive themes, as family and friendships are cherished, courage and self-sacrifice take a bow, and humility and perseverance are shown through Sully’s character. Sully is certainly portrayed as a humble man, as he tells one interviewer that he doesn’t feel like a hero. He was merely doing his job. Sully was responsible for every life on board that flight and did not do what was best for him, but for all 155 souls. Sully’s dedication to others and humility shine throughout this feature. There really aren’t any faith-based themes in “Sully,” but the film still slightly acknowledges faith to a degree. A character tells another to “Have a blessed day,” a cross is seen on a church building, a passenger is seen praying as the flight is being evacuated, and an air traffic controller monitoring Flight 1549 prays “Please, God.”
“Sully” is quite possibly the cleanest film director Clint Eastwood has ever directed and produced. It may contain some bits of unnecessary foul language, but if you can look past it, you can see a film with humble characters layered with pieces of redemption and the celebration of heroes. The film is certainly a softer PG-13 rating, but I’d still recommend “Sully” more for adults than teens, due to its intense perilous moments and brief language. The subject matter is much more suitable for a mature audience anyway. All that being said, “Sully” will definitely be one of the safer options playing at your local theater and may begin to spark interest in some audiences to research more true stories about real life heroes. As we observe the 15th anniversary of the September 11th tragedies, may we never forget all the heroes who lost and sacrificed their lives that fateful day. Some call Flight 1549 a miracle. Some don’t. But remember, as Ephesians 2:8 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” And that, my friends, is the greatest miracle and gift of all.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate to Heavy—OMG (3), God (1), Holy Chr*st (1), h*ll (7), d*mn (3), f-words (1), SOB (1), s-words (7), a** (1) / Sex/Nudity: Minor to Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.