Personally, I'll never forget the dramatic images of a huge aeroplane just sitting on the Hudson River. It was 15 January 2009, when Captain Chesley Sullenberger, aka Sully, brought the US Airways flight 1549 down on the gelid 'runway'. Passengers were standing on the wings of the plane like birds on a wire and some were floundering in the water, yet all one hundred and fifty five people were saved. The miraculous landing made Sully famous for his aviation skills, which were already appreciated by his colleagues.
The media and the public were calling Sully the 'Hero of the Hudson' but his performance as a pilot was being questioned. An NTSB investigation was conducted to discover what had gone wrong. Birds had smashed into the plane which was subsequently coming in too low to make it to an airport. Did both engines go out or not? Why wasn't one of the engines recovered? Can computer simulations be trusted over Sully's forty-plus years experience? The airline and the insurance company needed to know. Tension and suspense builds throughout the film as the events are pivoted back and forth between the landing on the water and the investigation.
Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies, The Green Mile, Apollo 13) is looking lean and distinguished and fully absorbs the character of Sully with his usual aplomb, giving a gripping performance from start to finish. Our emotions are carried along throughout the journey of the investigation with plenty of post traumatic sensations. The landing scenes are seamless and completely believable. Sully's wife Lorraine is played emotively by Laura Linney (Wild Iris, Out of the Shadows) who gets the shock of her life when Sully phones to tell her to tune into the news to see what has just happened.
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Battle Los Angeles) plays First Officer to Sully, Jeff Skiles. Sully and Skiles are questioned about drugs, alcohol, personal life and health as well as their perceptions of the need to land on the Hudson. Aaron Eckhart injects some humour, easing the tension.
Supporting cast include Valerie Mahaffey (Northern Exposure, Seabiscuit) as Diane Higgins and Mike O'Malley (Eat, Pray, Love) as Charles Porter conducting the investigation. I felt myself 'willing' them to take Sully's side.
This story puts the viewer right into the shoes of Sully, holding your breath as you await the final outcome. Presented by Time Warner and Village Roadshow Pictures, direction and theme by Clint Eastwood. The real Chesley Sullenberger (author of The Highest Duty) was a co-writer with screenplay by Todd Komarnicki (Perfect Stranger and Resistance) and Jeffrey Zaslow (The Highest Duty). During the credits you will have the pleasure of seeing the real Sully talking to some of the actual passengers, which was quite moving.
You'll have to find out if Sully was a hero or a fraud by seeing the film. Showing daily at The Strand in Toowoomba, Sully is a riveting film which reveals the facts surrounding the 'miracle on the Hudson'.