Sully review: Despite Tom Hanks' best efforts this avoided-disaster movie fails to take off

Steve Hogarty
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If you or I were to take control of a plane and crash it into a river we’d rightly be considered villains, but when Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger plonked his in the Hudson in 2009 he was hailed as an all-American hero. How, I ask you, is that fair?

Most likely because it was his plane and he’s a pilot. Captain Sully’s decision to splash down in the ice cold water rather than attempt to glide his stricken Airbus to the nearest runway probably saved the lives of everybody on board. All 155 passengers and crew came away wet but unscathed, and the mild-mannered American was thrust into the media spotlight.

Clint Eastwood’s biographical drama encompasses multiple reenactments of the event from different perspectives, some with a different outcomes, in an attempt to extract 90 minutes’ worth of spectacle out of what was, counter-intuitively, not an entirely interesting eight minutes of disaster-skirting. Hanks plays Sully with a quiet detachment as the pilot is grilled by overtly dastardly aviation officials following the event, but Eastwood’s retrospective feels too hallowed and its antagonists a too unbelievable.