Movie Review: Sully

There are certain professions in life that we all know you have to have a calling for. Jobs like Doctor, Nurse, Dentist, Grief Counselor and I also think that Airline Pilot should be included in this list. When you think about the profession of Airline Pilot you realize that their life is about almost never living in your own house, living for months a year out of a hotel room, sitting for many long hours in a cockpit that over the years has to become very boring and through all of this, in the back of your mind the possibility of a horrible life-ending tragedy is always there, and always something that you have to be prepared for. Then add the awesome responsibility of the hundreds of lives that you are responsible for that has to cause long term stress and worry. Then add the precarious financial life of an Airline Pilot and the Airline Industry, which for decades has been considered one of the worst businesses in the world. Stories of Airline Pilots losing their pensions, getting huge pay cuts and in some cases not even getting paid have been stories about the profession of Airline Pilot for years now. Only recently, due to the reduction of oil prices, the consolidation of Airline companies and creating more revenue from luggage and other sources somewhat improved the industry. Fundamentally, if you want to spend your life being an Airline Pilot, your love of flying has to be greater than the many downsides that come with this very difficult profession. I for one have no idea why anyone would want to work in this industry either as a pilot or a stewardess. However, all of the people in this profession are vitally important to the entire economy of the world.

The movie Sully, is about the Miracle on the Hudson – Flight 1549 when a US Airways Airbus landed in the Hudson River after a bird strike where a flock of geese completely destroyed both engines. What happened after this is a miracle of pilot instinct and correct decisions under the incredible stress and pressure where the Captain, Chesley Sullenberger saved the lives of 155 people by landing on the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 – is the most significant part of this story. At first, Sullenberger was considered a National Hero and was even honored by President George W. Bush and Barrack Obama, but what is great about this movie is that it tells the complete story of the Miracle on The Hudson and not the story that we all hear on the news that slowly fades from public attention. As with every incident involving any aircraft the Government Agency NTSB (National Transportation Saftey Board) steps in and investigates what happened in the hopes of preventing such an incident from happening again. All of this makes sense, but what didn’t make sense in this case is the way the NTSB turned the investigation of flight 1549 into a witch hunt almost as if they wanted to find that Sullenberger and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles were guilty of making the wrong decision even though they saved 155 lives after a massive bird strike. I found the condescending attitude of many of the NTSB members during their questioning infuriating as all of them were probably never pilots themselves and none of them were on the plane experiencing the impossible events that Sullenberger and his co-pilot had to deal with. I found the attitude of these agents trying desperately to trap both men and prove that Sullenberger made the wrong decisions despite the miracle they pulled off saving 155 lives an outrage. During the NTSB investigations which took over 1 year, Sullenberger was not able to fly again which jeopardized his financial future mainly because the investigation was poorly handled by the NTSB and after a certain point largely unnecessary. Considering both men needed to work again, you would think that the NTSB would have at least increased the speed of the investigation so they could work again, but this did not happen.

This movie shows the 209 seconds of the flight several times during the film from different perspectives and angles and the computer graphics that show the airplane hitting the water and being hit by the geese is outstanding. One scene I thought was in very poor taste was the daydream nightmares that Sullenberger had after the incident where he imagined another possible scenario that included the Jet flying into a building. Considering that this movie is coming out during the 15 year anniversary of 911 I thought that this scene, which was shown more than once during this film should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Tom Hanks plays Sullenberger in this role, along with Aaron Eckhart as his co-pilot Jeff Skiles and both are very well cast and outstanding in their roles. Clint Eastwood also does a great job directing this film which was told in unusual ways using different points of time and previous incidents throughout the film.  This movie is outstanding and a long overdue story about one of the most heroic events in aviation history. I highly recommend this film.

Sully: My Search for What Really Matters

Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life

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