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Sully - Miracle on The Hudson: Thrilling Hanks performance

By Damon Smith

On January 15, 2009, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, known as Sully, drew on years of experience to glide a stricken Airbus A320 onto New York’s Hudson River in freezing conditions.

Clint Eastwood’s exemplary thriller, which centres on the subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into Sully’s actions that fateful day, is a masterclass in sustained tension, replaying events aboard US Airways Flight 1549 and from the ground, from multiple perspectives, including air traffic controller Patrick Harten (Patch Darragh) and ferry boat captain (Vince Lombardi, playing himself).

This deeply human story is punctuated with different iterations of the landing, including chilling scenes of the Airbus ploughing into skyscrapers when Sully (Tom Hanks) imagines an attempt to reach LaGuardia.

The NTSB investigation led by Charles Porter (Mike O’Malley), Elizabeth Davis (Anna Gunn) and Ben Edwards (Jamey Sheridan), forms the crux and the script nimbly condenses the actual 15-month timeframe to explore the emotional strain on Sully and First Officer Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) as they defend their actions.

Hanks delivers a deeply affecting, yet understated, lead performance, eliciting pathos as he contends with post-traumatic stress disorder in the eye of a media storm.

Four stars

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