The Call Of The Hudson
Stars: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Ann Cusack, Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Jerry Ferrara, Molly Hagan, Jeff Kober, Michael Rappaport with Captain Vince Lombardi and Katie Couric as themselves
Director: Clint Eastwood
Scriptwriter: Todd Komarnicki based on the book “Highest Duty” by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow
Composer: Christian Jacob
Cinematography: Tom Stern
Rating: PG 13 with scenes of peril
Running Length: 97 minutes
James Stewart was the All-American film actor who could play just about anything, the same with Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, William Holden and so on. Today, we have Tom Hanks, who goes from to “Saving Private Ryan” to "Cast Away” to “Charlie Wilson’s War” and now to “Sully.” With his calm demeanor, Hanks portrays confidence and that is what is needed when playing an All-American hero, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. The man who brought his plane down on the Hudson River and everyone survived. That said, the rest of the cast is there for window dressing. as we concentrate on the cockpit and the landing.
The film begins with a plane crashing and we see that this is a dream Sully is having. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Time has passed since he safely landed the plane on water, and he is trying to pull his life together, besides dealing with the media, grateful passengers and a Board investigating the incident. The main question is: could Sully have brought the plane to a landing on the ground at either of two airports, rather than the dramatic water landing. Trouble had been caused by the plane, during take-off, running into a flock of birds that disabled the engines. Imagine---seconds after leaving the ground and here come those birds, and then chaos. The most important thing about flying a plane is getting it off the ground. Pilots train for this and milli-second decisions have to be made and this was one of them. Go for land or water and Sully chose water. The plane lands, help is available from a nearby ferry and 155 people were saved. The film does let us see the personalities of some of the passengers, including a mother and child and strangers who are willing to help.
What may be new to the audience is what the later investigation covers and how intricate the testing process was. Aaron Eckhart is Skiles, the co-pilot, who shared the experience, and Laura Linney is Sully’s wife, who finds out later that her husband was piloting that plane. Katie Couric plays herself as she interviews Sully, as part of the media who laud him as a true hero. Sully finds there is now even a drink named for him.
For those in the audience who are regular flyers, this scenario of birds and planes in the same air space is not uncommon, but for the novice or hands-gripping-the-armrest flyer, it’s another reason to drive to your destination. The film puts the audience in the plane and waiting to get out as water comes in. All this on January 15, 2009, a cold day. We see that such an event lingers in the mind with flashbacks and the “what if’s?”
Tom Hanks seems comfortable in the role, moustache and all, even Eckhart has a moustache.
There is a naturalness to Hanks acting that takes him far in the entertainment world. Aaron Eckhart is good in his role, as is Laura Linney, but you keep going back to the Captain, upon whom the responsibility for all rested. It is an awesome responsibility whether you are the captain of a ship on water, an airplane, or engineer of a train. It all rests on your shoulders. That day was a lucky day for all.
Copyright 2016 Marie Asner
For a sample of Tom Hanks work, here is another film review
Saving Mr. Banks