By Bill Dudley
The latest effort from director Clint Eastwood is Sully. If I had to sum up both the movie and the man it is based on, I would have to say humble, and confident.
The film starts off slow, but 20 minutes in, I was gripped to my seat. Rather than sensationalizing what was already a very turbulent and scary event, which is fully documented from several different viewpoints during the film, Eastwood focuses on the internal struggles of one man, who was about to become a worldwide hero.
It was January 15, 2009. I had just walked into work at The WAVE, and noticed the entire staff was mesmerized by the unfolding story of an US Airways passenger plane making a safety landing in the Hudson River on a cold winter day in New York. Captain Chesley Sullenberger (aka: Sully) is played very competently by Tom Hanks in a low profile hero mode.
After nearly 35 years of flight experience, Sully is taking off on a routine day from La Guardia Airport, when a huge flock of birds collide with, and knock out both engines of his aircraft. The soft spoken Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) soon agree that they can’t return to the airport, or any New York or New Jersey airport. They are flying over the Hudson River and that is where they must land. All 155 passengers survive the landing, well aided by New York’s finest safety and health care professionals.
Sully focuses not so much on how the world treats it’s hero, but on his inner conflict and cool demeanor as he faces intense scrutiny from the NTSB investigating the bizarre landing.
Mike O’Malley (the dad on “Glee”), and Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) are relentless in their efforts to have computerized re-enactments prove that Sully was wrong in his conclusion that both engines were out, and there was no other way to save 155 lives.
Sully points out that one element is missing from their analysis, the human mind. Unlike Eastwood’s recent efforts Changeling and Gran Torino, there is never a point when the hero finally loses his cool.
Sully the movie, and Sully the man are both humble and confidant, remaining dignified in the face of huge obstacles.
Sully opens wide this weekend.