Cusack and Thornton take control in Pushing Tin

Pushing Tin (20th Century Fox) will come as a wonderful surprise for those who think Hollywood is running out of ideas. Hollywood producers have yet to be tackle many subjects, and the hectic life of an air traffic controller is one of them.

Nick Falzone (John Cusack, The Thin Red Line) works in an air traffic facility in Long Island, N.Y., which handles 7,000 flights a day. Life in the workplace is stressful, but Nick loves his job. He is considered the best at what he does and he has a great marriage to his wife Connie (Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth). Everything seems perfect.

Things start to change when the “new guy,” Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton, A Simple Plan), comes along and starts stealing Nick’s popularity at work. Russell has an intriguing personality – he’s a motorcycle-riding cowboy with a different approach to the world. He soon becomes Nick’s biggest rival in the control room. The competition between the two men heats up when Nick sleeps with Russell’s alcoholic young wife (Angelina Jolie, Playing By Heart). Russell then tries to woo Nick’s wife.

Pushing Tin uses the chaos of the air traffic control tower to weave an interesting tale. A workplace that is seldom shown in movies, the air traffic control room offers an intriguing backdrop for the action. The supporting cast of air traffic controllers is a bunch of unknowns except Vicki Lewis from “Newsradio,” but they provide the energy and the humor the movie needs.

The cast members give commendable performances. Cusack is perfect as the fast-talking, always-ready-to-land-a-plane controller. His character transforms throughout the movie. Thornton’s role surprisingly doesn’t require much talking, but he still gives a terrific performance.

The only weakness of Pushing Tin is its clich? ending. One expects a more original conclusion from such a smart movie. Despite the generic ending, the film is fresh and funny.

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