Having seen Tom Hanks everywhere doing his press tour for this film, and being aware of the goings-on in the world over the past few years, it's almost impossible not to know about the release of Sully, and what it is basically about.
I love the Phoenix Cinema, having visited a few times recently, but Jericho is a nightmare to drive and park in, as it was in particular on this cold Friday night. The next issue was that our seats were at the very back of the auditorium, which at first seemed lovely as it allowed us oodles of legroom and space. However, as the film progressed we both found there was a bit of an issue with the sound where we were seated. Whenever there was background noise (and there is a lot, when you are watching a film about a plane landing on a river), it was difficult to hear any conversation being had on-screen, especially when the two main players, Sully (Hanks) and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (played subtly and naturally by a rather skinny Aaron Eckhart) have mouth-hiding moustaches.
Aside from our logistical problems, the film was brilliant. As posed by Hanks in interviews: how do you make a feature length film out of a situation that lasted about 8 minutes? Using the eponymous Chesley Sullenberger's book Highest Duty, acclaimed director Clint Eastwood and brilliant screenwriter Todd Komarnicki have produced a heart-stopping movie despite the audience being told the outcome of the plane crash right at the start. Unbelievably, Sullenberger's decision to land on the river Hudson in January 2009 resulted in nobody losing their life and, according to the film, only one person being injured.
So, why go and see the film if the outcome doesn't contain any death and minimal destruction? The focus is instead upon what happened next, which is not widely known. We see flashbacks of the lead up to the crash, and the crash itself, but the main bulk of the story is about the National Transportation Safety Board's hearing concerned with Sully's decision-making on that fateful day - why he would put 155 people at risk instead of returning to LaGuardia Airport. They collect data, interview Sully and Skiles interminably and simulate the flight. They are the 'bad guys' of this tale, and this is made clear through their attitude and through Sully's obstinate stand that he absolutely took the correct course of action.
Hanks is, as ever, brilliant. Completely believable and watchable his performance shows Sullenberger as a quiet hero, unwilling to be in the limelight but confident in his choices, in public at least. Eckhart also gives a sublime performance in his role as Skiles, steady and just as confident, if a little more blunt in his reaction to the questioning of NTSB officials.
This is a very well thought out film, right from the first scenes of a plane crashing into New York buildings, a dream sequence of what could have happened seen through Sully's sleeping subconscious mind, to the real-life photos of the extraordinary scenes on that day in January as ferryboats came to the rescue, and New York showed us, once again, that it will always come together in times of crisis.