Director Clint Eastwood expertly crafts “Sully” so that even though you know the outcome, you still feel the tension and nervousness as it is happening on the big screen.
IMAX amplifies the seat-gripping drama of the miraculous airliner landing of on the icy Hudson River. Not only are you getting a much bigger screen than conventional theaters, as always, but Eastwood used IMAX cameras so you are treated to an even more expansive visual experience, a 26% bigger film frame or roughly the equivalent of about five or six feet of additional vertical image on the screen than traditional horizontal film formats in most cases.
That adds up to a subtle and even subliminal but meaningful added emotional impact.
Eastwood also takes you through that experience several times during the course of the gratefully compact 1-hour and 36-minute movie from different perspectives relative to the less-familiar drama that played out over the course of the next 18-months following the incident on January 15, 2009. That’s when airline safety investigators were questioning whether U.S. Airways Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made an unnecessarily risky decision to land on the river instead of diverting to make a safer landing at one of two nearby airports.
We witness the real experience of Flight 1549 departing from LaGuardia Airport as Canada Geese flew into both engines of the the Airbus A320 three minutes into the flight — from the eyes of the pilots in the cockpit and from the view of the 155 passengers and crew; from the imagined outcome in the mind of Sully during those long 18-months had he tried to fly over buildings to make it to an airport; and from the computer-simulated and pilot-simulated re-creations of how the incident might have been handled differently.
As Sully has said all along, the lack of a loss of a single life was due to the actions of everyone involved, and Eastwood does a fine job of including all of those participants, from First Officer Jeffery Skiles, portrayed charmingly by Aaron Eckhart, the flight crew, the passengers who did not overly panic but exited and waited patiently on the wings of the floating plane nearly-submerged in 36-degree water, and the New York ferries and official emergency rescue teams who had everyone to safety within only 24-minutes of the landing.
This is yet another terrific production from the Kennedy/Marshall company and specifically producer Frank Marshall (the Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Jason Bourne, and Back to the Future franchises, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Seabiscuit,” “The Sixth Sense,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “The Color Purple,” “Poltergeist,” and dozens of others).
— By Scott Hettrick