Sully is a movie that you already know the ending of. Thus the magic that makes you spend your hard earned dollars and a couple of hours in a theater is asking how it was done.
The ‘it’ was the miraculous rescue of 155 passengers and crew from Flight 1549, a downed U.S. Airways Airbus that landed in, and on, NY’s Hudson River in January 15, 2009. Everyone survived.
The hero of the day, and the movie, is Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, (played by the reliable Tom Hanks) a veteran pilot who realized that he didn’t have enough power to steer his aircraft to other airports after a bird strike destroyed both engines, and landed it on the water instead.
The Clint Eastwood-directed movie has a creaky frame of the NTSB doing the post-crash (no water landing as Sully points out) investigation. They feel Sully had enough time to reach La Guardia and simulations support them.
Sully is not only the story of the crash and the passengers, but everyone involved. Flight 1549’s air traffic controller was devastated when the Airbus disappeared off his console. Hours later, a co-worker tells the broken man about the miracle on the Hudson. People in the tall skyscrapers watch the Airbus glide by, their faces showing sheer disbelief that it is happening. A tourist helicopter reports the crash as its horrified passengers watch.
New York’s ferries immediately headed to help pull the passengers off the plane’s wings, out of inflated airplane rafts and the icy water. First responders sprang into action. The Red Cross was ready for the passengers when they came to land in New York and New Jersey.
The two groups that come off badly in movie are the NTSB and the press (as usual). The press make assumptions long before the facts arise. They also set up an encampment outside his home, pinning his wife inside.
The final NTSB board inquiry when they show simulations and discuss exactly how it happened, including playing the Airbus’ black box recording, is a superb capper for the film. Stay through the credits where the real Sullenberger and passengers make an appearance.
Sully is a movie about decision making, bravery and a miracle. You’ll remember it every time you take a plane. It’s worth the time to see.