‘Sully’ reviews: Clint Eastwood’s Tom Hanks film is a ‘graceful,’ ‘vigorous and involving’ retelling of Miracle on the Hudson

Clint Eastwood‘s “Sully” — which stars two-time Oscar champ Tom Hanks as heroic airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger — launched the fall movie season with its opening on Sept. 9. And, based on the strength of its reviews, it also kicked awards season into high gear. As of this writing it has scored 76 on MetaCritic and 82% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. Those outpace the score of 72 at both sites for Eastwood’s last film, “American Sniper,” which went on to earn six Oscar nominations including Best Picture in 2014. In fact, these scores are the highest for any Eastwood film since journalists swooned over “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2006.

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“Sully” tells the true story the crew of US Air 1549, who successfully executed an emergency water landing in New York’s Hudson River in 2009 after bird strikes caused catastrophic engine failure. Clocking in at just 95 minutes, it’s Eastwood’s shortest film, but his sure-handed, economical directing style is precisely what critics admire about it. Check out some of the reviews below.

Manohla Dargis (New York Times): “The movie is economical and solid, and generally low-key when it’s not freaking you out. That it unnerves you as much as it does may seem surprising, given that going in, we know how this story ends. But Mr. Eastwood is also very good at his job, a talent that gives the movie its tension along with an autobiographical sheen.”

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Ann Hornaday (Washington Post): “After a summer of bombast and belly-flops, the fall movie season gets off to a refreshingly sure-footed start with ‘Sully,’ a four-square, upstanding, rock-solid example of filmmaking at its most direct and honestly affecting … This alternative glimpse, as well as Eastwood’s graceful staging of Sully’s darkest what-if fantasies, as well as the landing itself, makes “Sully” thoroughly engrossing and exciting to watch, even though viewers know the outcome.”

Katie Walsh (Chicago Tribune): “Helpfulness is a simple concept, but a powerful one, and ‘Sully’ captures the essence of what made the Miracle on the Hudson so grippingly inspiring. It’s a wonderful New York story, and Eastwood takes care to make it a story about the many different people who made it a miracle. That is the emotional core of the film, a celebration of the simple act of reaching out a helping hand without a second thought.”

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Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter): “A vigorous and involving salute to professionalism and being good at your job, ‘Sully’ vividly portrays the physical realities and human elements in the dramatic safe landing of a crippled US Airways jet on the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009. An elegant and eloquent docudrama, Clint Eastwood’s 35th feature as a director is also, at 96 minutes, the shortest of all his films, which well serves this to-the-point account of a potential tragedy with a happy ending. With a white-haired and mustachioed Tom Hanks in the title role, this taut, upbeat drama looks to play well with a wide general audience.”

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