“Sully” Well-Acted but Storyline Too Abrupt

By RENEE SUMMERS, A&E Editor

Who doesn’t like Tom Hanks?  The actor, who also produces and directs, has depicted some memorable characters on the big screen.  In addition, he has portrayed some real-life personalities such as Walt Disney, Captain Richard Phillips and Texas congressman Charlie Wilson.

In 2016, Hanks brought to the big screen Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. His performance was noteworthy but the brevity of the film Sully leaves the viewer feeling as if something is lacking.  

It was January of 2009 when U.S. Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles brought struggling flight 1549 to rest safely on the Hudson River after losing both engines shortly after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.  The event made headlines for days and Sully was hailed as a hero, as all 155 passengers and crew aboard survived the ordeal.  The film Sully was directed and produced by Clint Eastwood and is based on Sullenberger’s autobiography.  Co-pilot Skiles is portrayed by actor Aaron Eckhart and Lorraine Sullenberger is played by Laura Linney.  Both do a marvelous job.  

The cast is rounded out by actors Mike O’Malley, Anna Gunn and Jamey Sheridan, who portray NTSB investigators Charles Porter, Elizabeth Davis and Ben Edwards, respectively.  

Actor O’Malley’s portrayal of Charles Porter is supreme as you can’t help but hate the guy for attempting to argue that Sully had done something wrong in landing the plane on the river and saving the lives on board.  Gunn’s turn as Elizabeth Davis of the NTSB also makes the viewer want to throw a rubber brick at the screen as she stands by Porter, wagging her finger and insisting Sully was wrong not to have attempted to return to LaGuardia, which Sully maintains throughout the film would have been impossible.  

The film takes us on four flashbacks to the day of the event and cinematographer Tom Stern’s excellent work with the camera is displayed in dramatic scenery and stunning visuals, especially as the airplane lands on the water.  We see the angst in Sully’s face as he wonders to himself if he really did the right thing.  We see Sully’s wife, frustrated and anxious at the media circus engulfing her family.  

When the film ends, it almost seems too sudden. But apparently there is only so much you can do to fluff up 208 tense seconds on a struggling aircraft and stretch it out into a feature length film.

Total running time is 96 minutes, and while the story is brief, the actors make up for it.  Unless you are really interested in what happened to U.S. Airways flight 1549 in 2009, the only reason to pop this into your DVD player is to see splendid actors at work, especially Hanks.