Sully Afloat


By Dahlia Zail

On September 9, 2016, Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released. This movie puts a human face on a national news story from 2009. On January 15 of 2009, minutes after taking off from La Guardia Airport in New York City, a U.S. plane was hit with a “bird strike” which blew out both engines, forcing an emergency landing by Captain Chelsey Sullivan, aka Sully, on the Hudson River. There were 155 people aboard, and all of them survived. The event was named the Miracle on the Hudson.

All of this information you can find on the news, but the movie gives the personal experience.  Just from the opening scene, you get a sense of the emotional trauma this captain has gone through. It begins with the Sully, played by Tom Hanks, flying at a very low altitude through the bustling streets of New York City. Having little knowledge pertaining to the plot of the movie before arriving at the theatre, I figured this was the beginning of the reenactment of the Hudson River Landing, and that the plane would soon be landing in the water. What actually happened was a fiery crash into a new york high rise and a completely destroyed plane. A split second after the plane crashes, Sully jolts awake, and we see him in his hotel room, ashen with fear from his nightmare.

Unfortunately, this action packed shot didn’t set the scene for an action packed movie. I was fooled into thinking this would be an exciting, action packed, make-your-heart-race type of movie from start to end. I was disappointed. The movie was not told in chronological order, more from end to middle to beginning back to middle and then beginning again and then end and back and forth so much that I could barely understand what was happening when.

The first part of the movie takes place post crash, and our protagonist, the  National Transportation Safety Board, comes into play.  They claim Sully did the wrong thing, and by performing the water landing, risked the lives of the passengers on boards. They also claim that he had enough time to get back to La Guardia, which wouldn’t have caused any plane damage. These “bad guys” would have more of an effect if this story had been told chronologically. The only time their effect is really felt is at the end of the movie, because, the movie switches around so much, and there is never any build up to a big climactic event.

Despite this, there were still many good elements to Sully. It portrayed the emotional experience of the story. You see passengers crying and texting loved ones when the captain’s orders come on to “brace for impact.” These are not things talked about in the news story. Along with the perspective, the acting was incredible, especially by star Tom Hanks.

So all I can say is, don’t walk into the theater expecting to see an action packed movie- the only action lasted about 15 minutes in the middle. If you’re interested in the story and want more detail and an emotional take, this is the movie for you.