How do you make a film out of an event that took place within the space of two hundred and eight seconds, and ends in a way that everyone is already familiar with? Putting Tom Hanks in charge throughout is the answer. His understated characterisation of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is sympathetic, believable and quietly heroic.

It’s a testament to Eastwood’s unfussy direction that despite this familiarity – less there be any doubt the conclusion is revealed at the start of the movie – he still manages to ratchet up the tension in a way that is thoroughly engaging, without ever being less that respectful to the unassuming bravery of Sully and his co-pilot. Todd Komarnicki’s screenplay daringly commences sometime after Sullenberger’s split second decision to land his plane in the Hudson River during the on-going investigation into how the crash happened. It’s only as the Safety Board starts to forensically dissect events that we see the crash. When we do, its repeatedly and from all perspectives – as does Sully in his horribly convincing nightmares.

Sullenberger was the hero of the Hudson for a day, but then had to endure eighteen months of flashbacks, self-doubt and cross examination. While the film is occasionally guilty of injecting some inauthentic jeopardy along the way, it’s a hugely effective examination of the fallout that can arise from even the most positive of outcomes.

By David Vass