23 September 2002 | Volstag
Not that good, not that bad
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.