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I have never been a big fan of airplane disaster movies.
Oh, I loved 1970’s “Airport.” I mean, what could go wrong with Dean Martin as pilot? And the book “Airport” by Arthur Hailey is an excellent read and I still think timeless regarding the life of a big city airport.
After seeing the reviews and hearing from my friends about what a great movie “Sully” was, I checked it out. And I was not disappointed with director Clint Eastwood’s latest film.
The screenplay is by Todd Komarnicki and is based on the book “Highest Duty” by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow.
I don’t worry about giving spoilers here because this was the first big news story of 2009. On Jan. 15, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 to Charlotte, North Carolina and later Seattle, struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. Both engines quit working because of that.
The plane’s Captain, Sullenberger, decides the only option is to make a landing in the Hudson River.
He and first officer Jeff Skiles successfully put the plane down and it’s evacuated. Passengers gather on the wings and on the emergency stairs that then convert into rafts. It’s a cold winter day, the Hudson is bone chilling and hypothermia is a concern. But rescue boats respond quickly.
Every passenger and crew member survived and the majority of the injuries suffered were minor.
I have to give credit to Eastwood. Although I know the outcome of what happened, he still makes things tense during those scenes.
However, “Sully” deals mostly with the aftermath and that’s why Tom Hanks, who plays Chesley Sullenberger, should receive yet another Oscar nomination.
He skillfully portrays how Sullenberger, a skilled veteran pilot and family man, deals with suddenly being thrust into the spotlight as America’s newest hero while dealing with the trauma that he and everyone on the plane endured.
Laura Linney plays Lorraine Sullenberger, Sullenberger’s wife and although her role is limited, she’s very good at portraying the trauma that the family endured.
There was the customary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and I understand why directors and writers bump up the tension in a story when there was none. You need to keep the audience’s interest.
But published and broadcast reports have quoted NTSB investigators, who did the investigation into Flight 1549, who said there was never an adversarial relationship between them, Sullenberger and Skiles. So take those scenes with a grain of salt.
That shouldn’t keep you from “Sully.” It’s the story of people who had their strength tested in a crisis and lived to see another day.
And I will never get tired of an air disaster movie that has a happy ending.

RATING — *** and 1/2 stars