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I remember the day US Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III landed flight 1549 in the Hudson River after losing thrust on both engines following a bird strike. Not one passenger perished in the emergency landing. This is the first time in history a successful emergency water landing had ever been accomplished by a commercial passenger aircraft, and even flight simulators don’t allow for it as an option during training. However, Sully knew that he was too far away from airport runways to land on any of them safely, so a water landing was the only chance he had for the safety of the passengers on his aircraft, so that was the decision he made. It was an extraordinary story about a man and his heroic decision.

Then, Clint Eastwood decided to make a movie out of the story: SULLY. I think most people would agree that this seems like it would be a far-fetched idea. Great story, but rather short as far as these things go. The day begins like every other day. An adventure ensues as the plane takes off, then danger strikes! The pilot makes a heroic, daring decision that saves the lives of everyone involved as Hudson River ferries and other boats come to help in rapid life-saving the water rescue. The end. Wait, not so fast…

An adventure ensues as the plane takes off, then danger strikes!

This is a feature-length film, so we need to give it some drama, some intrigue, conflict, a little bulk. Clearly, we need to waste time here and get the story to drag out. So, then the film sets out to expand the storyline of the real-life anticlimactic National Transportation Board investigation and public hearing in the director’s losing attempt at turning them into a villain, of sorts. Eastwood has admitted that this was his big challenge in the story, and frankly, it shows. A great feel-good inspirational film fell very flat on the forced conflict towards the end, but a little clever writing left us with a painless and endearing climax with a couple of nice one-liners. Overall, SULLY is an heart-warming heroic story in our real-life American history that deserved its place on the big screen. As challenging as these types of short by meaningful stories may be to fit into a Hollywood blockbuster formula, we really need them in our dialogue. In a world filled with so much pain and tragedy, we can all benefit from watching more SULLY stories in our theaters.