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Sully (2016)

You’ve probably heard about the heroism of pilot Chesley Sali Salenberger. Namely, in January 2009, this man successfully performed a forced landing of a broken plane on the Hudson River, so it was exclusively thanks to him that all 155 passengers passed away with only minor injuries. With the help of Jeffrey Zaslov, he wrote the book Highest Duty in which he describes this endeavor, the investigation that was conducted after that act, as well as the accompanying publicity that he unexpectedly received. It was this book that was adapted into the script for this film.

When Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks are interested in the topic of the heroic deed of the people, the result must be a film that will aggressively run for film awards, and will play on the card of patriotism, courage and universal popularity of Mr. Hanks. It is known that Americans are a proud nation and that they will gladly and carefully follow every film adaptation of heroes from the people, so Sully earned much more money than the producers expected. Of course, the recent experience of Tom Hanks in these types of films (Bridge of Spies, Captain Phillips), as well as Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) are one of the reasons for the success of this film.

What amazed me was that the film lasted only an hour and a half – I am aware that the act of forced landing of the plane has no potential to drag on and there is no room for serious authorial work, but I was certainly surprised. Instead, the author team expertly emphasized the character of pilot Sali, a benefactor who is a great professional and a very experienced man in his work, and who refuses the title of hero because he was just doing his job. Sully is therefore not a traditional biopic as I expected, but a character study of a man whose professionalism gains great publicity, and thus certain doubts about the correctness of his actions.

The investigation threatened to destroy his reputation, and thus his career, so the pilot has numerous emotions that lead him to start doubting himself and his ability. His example shows how people react when, for a change, they finally hear some good news from their country, but you can also see the other side of the coin – if it is proven that he was wrong, Sally was fired without the right to a pension. I have been a pilot for 42 years and I have transported millions of passengers, but I will be remembered for one mistake, from that sentence you can see all the nonsense of the system in which workers are consumables.

Tom Hanks is an excellent actor who has proven so many times how he can present a multi-layered character to whom he gives the perseverance and persuasiveness of an ordinary person, and not a written character from the script. Saliu provides the human qualities of a humble hero and a reliable professional in a subtle way, exclusively through expressions, and not through dramatic dialogues. Aaron Eckhart in the role of co-pilot is also excellent, he brilliantly portrayed a man who has no doubts about the decisions of his superior, while Laura Linney is surprisingly human in the role of a woman who is not very patiently waiting for her husband.

Sully is an honest human story set in a solidly tense drama that is not a classic biopic, but a study of the character of an ordinary man who became a hero doing his job. Traditionally, the appearance of Tom Hanks makes every film twice as good, while the scenes of the plane crash are probably the most convincing I’ve seen in the film so far.