Critical Review 2: Sully

Sully is biographical drama film that is based off of a book that was written by the actual pilot Chesley Sullenberger and copilot Jeffery Zaslow, who heroically landed an airplane in the middle of the Hudson River. This movie doesn’t solely capture the plane crash, but it takes us into the real life scenarios everyone on the plane experienced as well as the obstacles Sully had to overcome after the crash. Sully is introduced as a by-the-book pilot who makes sure everything is in perfect order before and during his flights and expressed that through his thorough examinations of all precautions. Captain Sullenberger and his copilot express their true experience and decision-making skills as they decide to disregard recommendations to land elsewhere which later is proved would have resulted in a catastrophe.


The US Airways flight 1549 took off without any initial problems. It wasn’t until it was airborne that it was struck by a flock of birds. The engines are the first parts shown to fail so Captain Sullenberger and his co-pilot use their instincts to think of every option that will land this flight safely. Sully reported his issues to air traffic control and asks for help in order to land at a nearby runway, but after embracing his situation Sully makes the choice that they are heading for a water landing in the Hudson. New York watches on as they see a plane glide down the river and successfully accomplish a water landing where everyone on the plane survived. Even though Sully and all of New Yorks citizens who assisted in safe landing of his plan, he is questioned extensively on his decision to make such a landing in the Hudson. He is put through overwhelming questioning and has to overcome the doubts the NTSA have on his decision.

Director Clint Eastwood captured this real story through incredible detail and accuracy that made this film come to life. The movie’s high intensity gives emphasis to the humble and modest man of Chesley Sullenberger by the way he acts so calm and collected throughout his whole scenario. The extensive obstacles Sully faced after the crash in order to justify his reasoning for landing in the Hudson give way to the theme Eastwood shows of today’s world where technology and statistics are set above an individuals decision making regardless of their action.

The extravagant use of IMAX cameras brought this movie to life, capturing the events as if they were all done exactly as they were during the actual timeline. Adding further to the authenticity of the film and the timeline of events was the utilization of actual aircrafts and water vessels used throughout the filming. The scene of the crash took place on the Hudson River where actual crash had happened using actual Ferryboats to help bring the scene to life. Not only was the equipment authentic but also Eastwood chose to cast the actual divers who jumped out of helicopters the day of the actual plane crash to consult and re-enact the event in order to create optimum reality of the sequence of actions.   The dark and dreary day that this event occurred was captured through soft lighting and specific placement of shadows in order to mimic the cold January weather. In addition, Sully’s nightmares add emphasis to how intense the situation was and the multiple possible outcomes that could have occurred if Sully didn’t do exactly as he did. The nightmares consist of the plane’s possible crash scenarios into the heart of New York City’s skyline, which adds emotion and flashbacks of the tragedy that occurred on September 11th. The image of a plane flying low through the city frightens everyone. These nightmares allow the viewers to envision the different and frightening scenarios as well as emphasize how without Sully’s instincts and experience this could have escalated to an even more drastic and fatal tragedy that day.

This true story is told through multiple plane crash scenes other than the real one, giving the audience the image of all that could have went wrong while a plane glided through New York. The way Eastwood showed the worst, but very possible scenarios that could have happened, emphasizes the act Sully performed. Although his actions proved heroic, conflict still arises as a government agency and the concern over monetary costs of US Airways proved to overshadow the true accomplishment he performed. The NTSA was the villain in this film, as they seemed to do everything they could to find a reason why Sully should have landed at a nearby airport. As everyone in the world praised Sully as a hero, there were still people shown against him in the NTSA who are later proved wrong when the key aspect of the “human factor” is taken into account during the simulations of the crash. Once Sully had pointed out the most important factor, the conflict was used to show how improbable and incredible his actions truly where when the NTSA employees immediately after praised him. Although this was the turning point in Sully’s story, the use of the NTSA being the villain, gives the audience the feeling that government agencies have other intentions then discovering the truth.

sully 1

This film showed a number of values through the accomplishment, courage and bravery that not only Sully represented, but also everyone else aboard the plane and New York’s first responders. America has seen a plane crash that continues to have an impact on our society, but the way this movie shows the success and perseverance of the people of New York shines the continued light on how a city can work together to overcome such an incident. Sully portrays his own bravery by doing what he thought was his best chance of getting everyone off of the plane regardless of what others would think after.

In conclusion, this films real life stories and high-resolution camera use made the events seem as if they were happening again. It brought out the bravery and teamwork New York expresses by overcoming scenarios most would deem unthinkable. I believe that this film portrayed what a true hero resembles, a humble and modest person who does their job to the best of their ability for the greatest good of others.


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