This film chronicles the amazing story of US Airways Flight #1549, which, on a cold January 15, 2009, was forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River about 8.5 miles from La Guardia Airport. Miraculously, all 150 passengers and 5 crew members lived, although one crew member and four passengers were seriously injured. This film is adapted from the book “Highest Duty,” which was co-written by Pilot Chelsey Sullenberger.
After a flock of Canadian geese suddenly flew into and destroyed both his plane’s engines, Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) was forced to make a spit-second decision whether or not to return to a runway. Co-Pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) concurred with Sully’s decision, and Sully’s skillful landing of the plane safely in the river earned his respect and admiration. Immediately after the plane landed, the Coast Guard and other first-responders rescued the passengers from the freezing Hudson – otherwise, they soon would have frozen to death.
The events on the plane, the emergency landing, and the rescue of the passengers are realistically and masterfully portrayed. Sully was immediately declared to be a “True American Hero,” but he was uncomfortable being a celebrity and receiving so much notoriety.
The movie’s tension primarily involves the immediate investigation of the incident by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), which ran flight simulations and computer analysis which, at least according to the film, initially took an adversarial stance against Sully and claimed he had erred in his choice to land on the river. The Captain, understandably, was terrified that his reputation would be “sullied.” Robert Benson (now-retired head of the NTSB inquiry into the incident), however, claims the film unfairly depicts the NTSB as villains. He denies that there was any attempt by the agency to crucify or to embarrass Sully.
Tom Hanks once again does a masterful job, as does Director Eastwood, getting fine performances from the leads. It’s not a top-ten film, but it’s a well-crafted one and worth a trip to the BS now.