SULLY (2016) 5 stars out of 5

sully-2016-movie-posterFor many of us, I don’t really know what is harder to believe. That we turned on our television sets one early September morning in 2001 and watched the World Trade Center disintegrate before our very eyes. Or, that this September weekend in 2016, marks the fifteenth anniversary of 9-11.

In 2001, I was President of the Nevada Broadcasters Association and later that winter, the Office of the Mayor of New York arranged for a private tour at Ground Zero. I can still remember the smell in the air and the silence during those private moments of reflection. As I stood on the private platform that had been built for surviving family members and colleagues, I will never forget the story that was told to me by my escort. “Yesterday, I brought a man here who had lost his wife when one of the planes hit the building. She happened to be standing on the street corner waiting for her bus to go home. She had just finished her overnight housekeeping shift. She had been covered with burning jet fuel. It took days for her to die in the hospital”.

When I returned back to Las Vegas, I was asked in an interview what it had felt like standing there on the platform. It was an easy question to answer: “The same feeling I had when I visited Auschwitz”.

Clint Eastwood’s SULLY is a towering valentine to the City of New York. In a recent telephone interview that appeared in The New York Times, Mr. Eastwood is quoted as saying, “The picture needed New York proper, and not just backdrop.” And what a New York and specifically Manhattan — it portrays. Sully jogging along the East River, on a street in Hell’s Kitchen and in a deserted Times Square. The airport scenes were filmed at La Guardia Airport. And while the landing was achieved through CGI (computer-generated effects), the rescue was mostly filmed in the Hudson River. According to Mr. Eastwood, the actual ferry boats that pulled the passengers off of the jet’s wings and out of the river, are in the movie. So too are some of the actual first responders who participated in the rescue. Some scenes of the jet in the water were also filmed in an artificial lake in California — with a retired aircraft mounted on a pivoting rig called a “gimbal”.

Without giving away important aspects of the screenplay written by Todd Komarnicki, it is safe to say that when Sully imagines the “what could have been” scenarios, you will immediately go back to your own images of the Twin Towers.

The Miracle on the Hudson came just at the right time to lift the spirits of a depressed post 9-11 city that was in shock. The water rescue portrayed in this film may just be the most thrilling piece of cinema this year. And in a spoiler alert, the moments with the real Chesley B. Sullenberger III, together with the actual survivors that are spliced into the end credits of this 5 Star movie, is equally satisfying.

This is one of Clint Eastwood’s best directed films, and that is saying a lot for this Oscar winning director. Tom Hanks as Sully, has never been better. And that is saying a lot for this Oscar winning actor. This is also the career defining role for Aaron Eckhart, who strongly plays Sully’s co-pilot, Jeff Skiles. This is one “buddy movie” that works.

The directing, screenplay and acting together with the cinematography Tom Stern), CGI special effects, sound, and editing (Blu Murray) are all Oscar worthy. It is what we have come to expect from this legendary 86 year old film. director. The story of US Airways Flight 1549 is well known. Everybody survived. The story of the scrutiny that came afterwards by the NTSB is not as familiar. It is the result of that hearing and the final judgment handed down that closes out this heroic drama.


This is a DO NOT MISS American film that needs to be seen on an IMAX screen. And don’t forget to stay through the entire end credits. You will shed tears of joy.



Our young movie audiences will have little knowledge that Clint Eastwood first started out as a star in the eight year RAWHIDE television series. They may also not be old enough to remember that he starred in the Italian Western DOLLARS Trilogy and five DIRTY HARRY films. Over the past 25 years, his filmography includes the following Academy Award nominations and awards:

Academy Award for Best Picture and Director
Oscar nomination as Best Actor

Oscar nomination as Best Picture and Director

Academy Award for Best Picture and Director
Oscar nomination as Best Actor

Oscar nomination as Best Picture and Director

Oscar nomination as Best Picture


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