One of the most underrated movies of the last decade, 'Pushing Tin' (colloquial sobriquet for air traffic control), despite an all star cast and an engaging script, didn't win over critics or audiences in 1999. The fact that 1999 was one of the busiest and most exciting years in film (e.g. 'The Matrix', 'Episode 1', 'Fight Club', 'The Sixth Sense', 'American Beauty', 'Notting Hill', 'The World Is Not Enough' etc) may've had something to do with its poor showing at the box office.
Still, there's a lot to be said about this well written, reasonably well paced, and often hilarious, story about polar opposite air traffic controllers: John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, whose increasingly absurd rivalry forces them to take stock of their lives.
Cusack's on good form as the fast talking maverick, Thornton plays it straight with a languid Southern drawl and quick draw reflexes, Cate Blanchet is commendably understated as Cusack's put upon wife whilst the then real-life Mrs. Thornton; Angelina Jolie, sparkles in pseudo-Goth mode as Billy Bob's better half. John Cusack hits all the right notes with great comic timing and delivery; his rambling speech with random references to a Hibiscus plant is priceless but it's Angelina Jolie who steals almost every scene she's in.
Directed by Mike Newell ('Donnie Brasco') 'Pushing Tin' is a film I enjoy revisiting every now and then: A light and enjoyable comedy, let down slightly by a meandering third act and some dodgy CGI. Give 'Pushing Tin' permission to land in your DVD collection.
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Nick Falzone (John Cusack) is the best air-traffic controller in the business. He is therefore rattled by the arrival of a laid-back and supercool rival, in the form of Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton). As the rivalry between the two increases, they find themselves acting out ever more dangerous stunts, much to the outrage of the authorities.
Nick Falzone (John Cusack) is a confident accomplished air traffic controller whose life is turned upside down when drifter Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) joins his tight-knit work team and threatens to drive him insane Stakes are high and pressure is constant in the world of air traffic control making the line between excellence and failure dangerously thin While jokes provide the team of controllers with an important release from their stressful occupation a narrow division exists between teasing and animosity Mike Newell's careful research of the air traffic control profession including its frequent emotional toll lends a high level of realism to PUSHING TIN Newell combines a depiction of the demandingly precise work done in air traffic control towers with an emotional portrait of the people charged with the safety of thousands of airline passengers and crew every day The film also features the charming talents of Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie