Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: On January 15, 2009, the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 were in a hurry to get on their plane at La Guardia Airport and get on to Charlotte. It was just another routine day filled with normal concerns, until their plane took off. Then 208 seconds in the air later, they found themselves on a jet making an emergency landing in the Hudson River. The “Miracle on the Hudson” was the fact the plane landed safely and intact, and that all 155 passengers and crew were quickly rescued with only a few minor injuries.
The fact that Captain “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) performed an amazing feat of flying under very adverse conditions is not questioned. But hours after the plane ditched in the water, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is examining the actions of the crew under a microscope, and serious questions are raised. Did Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) make sound decisions? Could they have made an emergency landing back to La Guardia, or nearby Teterboro Airport? These questions and many others hang over the pilots’ heads, while the media frenzy swirls about them and anoint them as national heroes. One very possible outcome, if fault is assigned to Sully, is loss of a pension after 42 years as a pilot. Sharing this concern is Sully’s wife Lorraine (Laura Linney), who must agonize alone while Sully and Jeff Skiles remain sequestered and run the gauntlet of the NTSB investigation.
This is just a terrific movie on every level. The action scenes showing the brief and terrifying flight of US Airways 1549 is riveting. Likewise, the tension building up to the NTSB hearing is suspenseful and eye-opening. The public had no clue of the drama going on behind the scenes. Clint Eastwood at 86 years old is still the master film maker; this is his best film since Million Dollar Baby. Naturally, the acting is first rate. Tom Hanks captures the dedication of Captain Sully perfectly, who is tortured by doubts as he must handle the burden of defending his actions. Hanks must get a Best Actor nomination from this film. It has been 21 years since he won the Oscar for Forrest Gump, and about time he gets recognized again. See this movie; I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Dialogue Nuggets: Sully to NTSB – “It was not a crash; it was a forced water landing.”
Lorraine to Sully – “I’m thinking of running over the press with my car.”
TV Reporter – “Why Captain Sullenberger made the decision only he can answer. But we now know it was the wrong decision.”
Jeff Skiles – “Can you believe they charge $5 for a Snickers?”
David Letterman to Crew Members – “What was the first thing you heard coming from the cockpit?” Crew – “Brace for impact!” Letterman – “Ever hear that from the cockpit before?”
Katie Couric – “How do you feel when people call you a hero?”
Jeff Skiles to NTSB – “If he had followed the damn rules, we’d all be dead!”
Air Traffic Controller – “I guess you haven’t heard. I lost FL 1549.” Friend – “I guess you haven’t heard. He landed the son of a bitch!”
Sully – “No one warned us. No one told us we were going to lose two engines at a lower altitude than any plane in history.”
The real Sully to FL 1549 Passengers – “We will be joined in our hearts and minds forever.”
Theme Music – Clint Eastwood is a very talented man. He wrote the music for the theme song Flying Home, and co-wrote lyrics with Tierney Sutton.
Post Credits – Stay for the credits and see many of the real passengers with Captain Sully and his wife Lorraine. She makes a point of thanking them for the Christmas cards they still receive from them.