The title’s a two-edged nod to both titular pilot and what the NTSB wanted to do to his reputation. Considering the guaranteed happy ending, it’s amazing how much suspense director Clint Eastwood is able to mine. A huge “what if?” opens the show as the Captain, experiencing a form of pilot PTSD, dreams what might have happened had a decision to reroute to Laguardia ended in disaster. It’s a question that haunts our hero and drives what Harry Callahan would have called “the pencil-pushing sons-of-bitches” at the NTSB. Sully is as much a sock on the nose that big government insists on sticking where it doesn’t belong as American Sniper was a negative appraisal of the American military. No actor currently at work is better suited to play this type of hero than Tom Hanks, and it’s been ages since a director put his congeniality to the test the way Eastwood does here. Hank’s Sullenberger is by far Eastwood’s most untarnished standard-bearer to date. Not even Nelson Mandela came off looking this good. (2016) — Scott Marks
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