Warner Bros. has unveiled the first trailer for its forthcoming drama, “Sully,” and frankly, it looks vaguely similar to the original trailer for 2012’s “Flight” – which was also about the dramatic and heroic emergency landing of a commercial airliner, and the subsequent investigation.
The key difference, of course, is that “Flight” was fiction and “Sully” is based on actual events.
Almost certainly you know of them: On Jan. 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport (bound for Charlotte) and ran smack into a flock of Canada geese, causing the loss of power to both engines. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made a brilliant landing (or controlled ditching) on the freezing waters of the Hudson River; all 155 people on board survived.
Since 2011, the Airbus A320 has been a centerpiece attraction at the Carolinas Aviation Museum, off Billy Graham Boulevard in Charlotte. It was transported to Charlotte from New Jersey in 2011 and reassembled using all the remaining parts.
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The two-minute preview, which touched down on the internet Wednesday night, opens with Sullenberger – portrayed by Academy Award winner Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump,” “Philadelphia”) – appearing to suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Then Hanks provides this solemn voice-over: “No one warned us. No one said, ‘You are going to lose both engines at a lower altitude than any jet in history.’ This was dual engine loss at 2,800 feet, followed by immediate water landing, with 155 souls on board. No one has ever trained for an incident like that.”
In real-life, less than 3 1/2 minutes elapsed between the Airbus A320’s run-in with the birds and the emergency splash-down. The trailer provides a few glimpses of the before and after, but not of the actual landing.
Most of the dialogue we get, though, suggests the federal inquiry into the “forced water landing” (as Hanks’ Sully refers to it) plays a key role in the film. “The left engine was still operating,” an investigator says to Sully. “Simulation showed that you could make it back to the airport,” says another.
He’s asked: “When was your last drink, Captain Sullenberger? Have you had any troubles at home?”
Which leads him to wonder: “What if I did get this wrong? What if I endangered the lives of all those passengers?”
“Over 40 years in the air,” Hanks/Sully says, “but in the end, I’m gonna be judged on 208 seconds.”
Two fuselages of retired jetliners were used for water scenes in California, and most of the rest of the movie, based on Sullenberger’s autobiography (“Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters,” by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow), was filmed in Georgia.
The truth of the matter is, there seems to be no indication that Sullenberger is anything but an American hero.
The entire crew – which also included first officer Jeff Skiles and flight attendants Donna Dent, Sheila Dail and Doreen Welsh – was awarded the Master’s Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, an honor bestowed at a frequency that is very close to never. Sullenberger walked the aisle of the downed jet twice looking for passengers before exiting himself; in the final shot of the new trailer, Hanks’ movie version of the pilot can be seen doing exactly that, in dramatic fashion.
And come on, it’s going down in history as “The Miracle on the Hudson.” We only brand things as miracles in extraordinarily positive instances, like when we upset Russia in hockey at the Olympics, or when we discover there’s a real Santa Claus working at a Macy’s on 34th Street.
But it would be awfully boring to watch people pat Sullenberger on the back and throw parties for him for an hour and a half, so ... I don’t know, I guess we’ll just have to trust that “Sully’s” Oscar-winning director, Clint Eastwood, can do for airplane movies what he’s already done for boxing movies (“Million Dollar Baby”) and Westerns (“Unforgiven”).
Midway through the new trailer, Sullenberger is shown talking by phone to his wife Lorraine, played by three-time Oscar nominee Laura Linney.
“I want you to know, I did the best I could,” he says, sounding unsure.
She almost sounds incredulous, and seems to speak for pretty much all of Chesley Sullenberg’s adoring public when she replies by saying this: “Of course you did.”
“Sully” is in theaters nationwide on Sept. 9.