Pushing Tin (1999) / Comedy-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for language and a scene of sexuality
Running Time: 124 min.

Cast: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Jake Weber
Director: Mike Newell
Screenplay: Glen Charles, les Charles

Review published October 23, 1999

Nick (Cusack, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) is a cocky air traffic controller in the busiest airspace in the world, New York City. Russell (Thornton, A Simple Plan) is the new hotshot who joins the crew, but he's reckless amid his skill. The tension between the two becomes unbearable when Nick has an affair with Russell's wife (Jolie, Playing by Heart), and Nick's guilty conscience begins eating away at his sanity and his ability to concentrate on his job.

Amid this mess of a plot, a good movie seems to want to emerge. The air traffic controller aspect of the film made for a refreshing change as it's not something often seen. Unfortunately the makers of this film realize that it isn't enough to make a movie, so they unwisely injected a hackneyed plot about adultery and redemption, which does little but to bog down the film with a lack of realism and unsympathetic characterizations.

Even so, the film could have made a workable film out of this, but the absurd comedy keeps clashing with the soul-searching depression of the angst-ridden Cusack and the film seems to remain in neutral for the duration. A good cast is wasted on a half-cooked script and a directionless plot. Far too much turbulence in what should have been a smooth flight.

Qwipster's rating:

1999 Vince Leo