I spent my New Year’s Eve tucked safely away at home in front of the television. Since I hadn’t seen Sully at the theater, I decided to download it on Amazon for $4.99.
Usually, I am not keen on watching crisis movies with airline crashes, but since everyone walked away from this one alive thanks to one pilot’s brilliant landing, I thought that I would give it a try. Of course, I should have known that anything directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks would be a good movie. I was not disappointed.
Tom Hanks, the wonderfully talented actor who can transform himself into characters, has once again given an outstanding performance as the US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger (“Sully”). As most everyone knows, it started as a routine flight but when the Airbus A320 encounters a flock of birds who get sucked into both engines, dying a rather gruesome death, the plane becomes dead in the air with no power. Unable to make it back to the two nearest airports, he decides to land the plane on the Hudson River. He expertly does so and everyone survives to be rescued by nearby boats.
Afterward, he becomes an instant hero and celebrity, receiving constant media attention. On the other hand, he is also harshly criticized by the National Transportation Safety Board that claims he could have made it back to an airport and unnecessarily ditched the plane, putting everyone’s life in danger. Sully, of course, acted on human instinct that he could not reach the airport, while the computer simulations continue to prove him wrong.
At the hearing, he finally proves that computers cannot reenact the human factor, so the committee allows an additional 35 seconds for human thought to decide what to do — whether try for the airport or the Hudson. When the simulations are repeated, the plane crashes before it reaches either available runways that would have been available to land the plane. So in the end, Sully made the right decision and and saved 155 lives.
Hanks portrays a man who is concerned about every life on the plane, is overwhelmed and shy at the attention he receives, and is placed in an awkward position of being proven wrong by computers in his decision making that could end his career, when in his gut he knows he made the right choice. Once again, Tom Hanks deserves accolades and awards for his portrayal of the real Sully. He makes you hope that the next time you step on an airline, wherein you trust the pilot to get you there alive, someone like Sullenberger is in the cockpit.