Plot:The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight’s passengers and crew.
Situations where airplanes malfunction rarely have a happy ending. It’s either disappearances or crashes and morbidity is synonymous with these events. So when Captain Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger sent out a mayday signal on the 15th of January 2009 after birds took out both of the engines on the Airbus 320 on Flight 1549 which Captain Sullenberger was the pilot of, no one believed it possible that Sullenberger could put down the plane on the Hudson River successfully. In doing so, he saved the lives of his 154 co-passengers. The successful landing was a combined result of a lifetime of experience and a man that not only excelled at his job but was born to do it. I followed this story obsessively when it came out, and recently checked again the technical difficulty this landing required. I love stories about human courage and defeating unimaginable odds (who doesn’t?), and the event kept me glued to the screen for weeks.
That said, I’ve burned my fingers the last few months with real life events turned into movie adaptions. It’s a seemingly difficult task for directors to tell these stories accurately and keep the inspirational levels as well as the truth intact. However, with Sully, director Clint Eastwood made a film that wasn’t only true and inspirational, it is Oscar worthy.
Tom Hanks plays veteran pilot Chelsey Sullenberger. He does so by portraying a pilot who had the correct level of confidence in his abilities, which he combined with good sense and humility. Hanks shows you all the sides – the PTSD, the stress he and his family is shouldering, the fatigue and overpowering sense of media frenzy. Aaron Eckhart is the lighter of heart Co-pilot Jeff Skiles. His importance to the success of the landing is paramount, as he did not, as I would have, started yelling “what the fuck” at the top of his lungs.
The passengers get their moments too – a woman with her elderly mother, a mother with her infant daughter, business men and women, a father and his sons rushing to make the gates for the flight – real people with real lives all just planning a quick trip. It adds a human element, and the chanting of the passengers as they braced for landing is heartbreaking to listen to.
I was engrossed by Sully. It is chilling and inspiring and I will definitely watch it again. Eastwood and Hanks are a power combination that should be explored further. If you need to feel inspired, watch this. It is a story about thinking on your feet, being insanely courageous and calm, and using the experience life has given you to fulfill your life’s work.
Have you seen Sully? What did you think?