On screen and in reality Sully is a salute to professionalism.

Many people think of Clint Eastwood as a legend. This reviewer included. At an age when most Hollywood personalities are turning senile, Eastwood is still churning out auteur stuff. At its heart, Sully is a modest celebration of an All American hero, much like Eastwood’s previous film American Sniper. Modest and celebration go hand-in-hand, like an oxymoron, because in reality, the message in this film is much larger than it appears on screen.

Consider the fact that Captain Sullenberger (again, Hanks at his brilliant yet modest best) had decades of experience as a pilot before the incident. Not a blemish in his career having flown over a million passengers safely in 42 years as a commercial pilot. That’s an extraordinary feat for anyone in the aviation industry. But all that was almost instantly tarnished when bigwigs from the NTSB took over the investigation. They wanted to blame someone. Somehow his years of devotion to the job didn’t matter. In their books Sullenberger didn’t follow procedure. Herein lies the crux of the film based on the real incident that occurred on 15 Jan 2009 – instinct versus experience versus procedure. Could Sullenberger have saved the lives of all 155 souls on board that day had he followed procedure? The answer to that question is almost terrifying, not only in the film, but also to anyone confined to the nitty-gritties of hardcore airport and flight ops. And that’s probably why the incident has been dubbed the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’.

There’s a lot of liberty compressing months of investigation into a short 95 minutes of screen time. But that also means there’s not a single minute wasted in telling this remarkable story. Apart from a couple of stock scenes showing panic stricken passengers, Sully is as remarkable as the story it depicts. This is not only Eastwood at his no-nonsense best, it’s a steadfast salute to professionalism, both on screen and in reality. It’s a director’s film through and through so I won’t be surprised if Sully gets a nod or two come Awards season.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.