This new century has seen an immediate influx of real life heroes. The events of September 11, 2001 made ordinary men and women put in an horrific situation perform extraordinary acts of bravery which will be remembered for a long time to come. Fast forward to January 15, 2009 at 3:27 P.M. An ordinary airline pilot on a routine flight with 155 souls aboard will be tested and defined for a lifetime by his next 209 seconds.

“Sully”, the latest directorial effort by Clint Eastwood tells the incredible story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and “The Miracle on the Hudson” that saw US Airways flight 1549 and the amazing pilot make a water landing in the Hudson River without any loss of life. Tom Hanks stars as airline pilot, Sully Sullenberger, he gives a quiet and thoughtful performance of man who seems on the surface to be as cool as ice, but inside wrestles with the same doubts and fears of any normal man put in an extreme situation. Hanks captures the essence of Sully and his demeanor. Hanks’s portrayal almost seems too low key, but you realize that men like Captain Sullenberger are from a different generation and cut from a different cloth and when put into a dire circumstance and without hesitation act when others can’t. Hanks gives a stirring performance here and I will not be surprised if he gets an Oscar nod. Aaron Eckhart who portrays Sully’s Co -Pilot, Jeff Skiles, plays opposite Hanks for most of the film and is a grand complement to Hanks’s performance.

“Sully” is another shining example of Eastwood’s exemplary work behind the camera. Eastwood is not one for spectacle, his strength is pulling the humanity out from extraordinary events, he does this masterfully here. Eastwood manages to tell this singular event’s story from multiple perspectives, each compelling and each different. In Eastwood’s other directing efforts, he tells a story and let’s the audience decide how we should feel individually about the characters and the story. Here he takes a different tact, here he wants you to know that Sully is the hero and his bravery is one few possess and even fewer would or could act on.

Eastwood’s “Sully” tells a more suspenseful, thought provoking and emotionally charged story in 96 minutes than most movies do in 2 hours. “Sully” is a better film than its release date. Most films the caliber of “Sully’s” we’d see during the November and December Oscar season. “Sully” being released in the veritable dumping ground for Hollywood movies of September does it no favors, but it will certainly stand head and shoulders above its competition. This film is far from throwaway cinema. As a matter of fact, Sully is better than half of what we got all Summer. The criticism can be made that “Sully” did feel more leisurely paced considering its subject matter, but do not let that detract you from watching “Sully”, which is another early contender for best picture of the year.

OVERALL: 4/5 Stars
 –originally published in MAUIWatch