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Nick and the other boys (and Vicki Lewis) working the hotspot of air traffic control in New York are impressed with themselves, to say the least. They thrive on the no-room-for-error, fast-paced job and let it infect their lives. The undisputed king of pushing tin, "The Zone" Falzone, rules his workplace and his wedded life with the same short-attention span that gets planes where they need to be in the nick of time. That is, until Russell Bell, a new transfer with a reputation for recklessness but a record of pure perfection shatters the tensely-held status quo. The game of one-upmanship between the two flies so high as to lead Nick into Russell's bed with his wife. His sanity slipping just as fast as his hold on #1, Cusack's controller is thrown out-of-control when Thornton's wanderer quietly leaves town. Nick must now find a way to regain his sanity and repair his marriage before he breaks down completely. Written by
Billy Bob Thornton's character (Russell Bell) states in the movie that he is half Irish (his father) and half Choctaw Indian (his mother). In real life, Mr. Thornton's father is of Irish ancestry, while his mother is half Choctaw Indian and half Italian. See more »
At the beginning of the movie, when Ed is believed to "go down the pipes", his scope shows two Continental Airlines flights with the same number (COA1250), supposedly representing two different planes. See more »
Pushing Tin is somewhat of an odd movie. It's not really funny enough to be considered a comedy, and it's not really compelling/dramatic enough to be considered a good drama. It attempts to pull off both at once, but never really succeeds.
The pacing seems a little "off". You always expect the movie to pick-up at some point but it never really does. It does manage to move along quick enough that it keeps you awake (barely), but I always found myself wanting the story to move someplace / anyplace to keep me more interested than I was.
The story itself primarily centers around the antics of Nick Falzone (John Cusack) and Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton), both of whom are air traffic controllers. To it's credit, I've never seen a movie about ATC's, but at the same time Nick and Russell could have been in any other profession and the story would have held up. I sometimes think the writer chose ATC's simply because no one else had done it.
The main conflict centers around Nick's desire to out-do Russell. Why he feels the need to do this is never adequately explained. It's also somewhat of a mystery as to what Nick is hoping to accomplish by out-doing Russell. Most of their competitions are basically irrelevant and don't prove much anyway: holding onto a match the longest, shooting freethrows, stacking as many planes into a queue as possible, etc, etc. Their "battle of wits", as it were, eventually begins to involve their significant others. Unfortunately the respective wives (Blanchett and Jolie) are seemingly little better than pawns in Nick and Russell's bizarre and meaningless mind game. They don't have much depth of character, nor any wants/desires of their own (beyond the superficial), and, as a result, you don't really care what happens to them.
So, in short, Pushing Tin isn't that funny (though I seem to remember it being billed as a comedy) nor is the story engaging enough to be considered a good drama. As noted in my header, it's not a bad movie, but it isn't that good either. Worth a rental if you've seen everything else.
I rate it 5/10.
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