Warning: spoiler alert!
On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation.
I’ve watched hundreds of movies and consider myself an avid movie-goer. So when I saw the movie poster, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, saw it was a true story, and its high rating on Rotten Tomatoes, my instincts were telling me it was going to be awesome. There was no question about whether or not I was going to watch this 😁
I enjoyed how the movie didn’t go in chronological order. Instead, it was broken up into five parts:
- Post-crash: the day after and the beginning of the investigation
- 1st half of incident: take off up until crash
- Continued story and investigation
- 2nd half of incident: crash and rescue
- Continued story, the final public hearing, and the revisit of the flight audio recording
The value of this order sets up the problem and builds suspense for the audience. While we learn Captain Sully was considered a hero in the media, the behind the scenes investigation and his PTSD of the incident make you think he might be blamed for putting people unnecessarily at risk.
The second half of the incident pulled at the heartstrings. It showed how everyone, the rescue workers and first responders, came together to help their fellow men and women in need.
The last sections built up the suspense really well. All seemed lost until Sully had the revelation about the human factor. Despite what the computer simulations and technology said, the miraculous result was ultimately due to his experience and the teamwork of all involved.
As I always say, I’m really big on themes. Even if the execution or acting of a movie isn’t the best, I’ll still love the movie if the themes are solid.
Technology vs. humanity. I think the story really illustrated that despite all the advances in technology and science, some things really can’t be automated. There will always be areas where a human mind and judgement cannot be replaced. After the initial simulations were debunked, it was clear that the captain’s invaluable experience of 42 years flying played a huge part in the successful landing.
Teamwork and togetherness. There is just so much undeniable magic that happens when people work together towards a common goal, especially to help others during a crisis. Even though there was a question as to whether he made the right decision to land in the Hudson River, it was clear that all he cared about was saving the other 154 souls on board the plane.
Nutshell: A heartwarming and inspiring movie about a hero whose service and commitment to excellence saved many lives, and how a crisis can reveal the light of humanity.