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Pushing tin

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Nick Falzone (John Cusack) is a control freak. An air traffic control freak.

He pushes tin at New York's Terminal Radar Approach Control (Tracon) centre. Part catacomb, part frat house, Tracon is the chaotic air traffic facility on Long Island that handles up to 7000 flights a day into and out of the finite airspace above Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark airports. Nick works the Newark radar scopes, the busiest of them all, and he is the best of the best. If you don't believe it, just ask him.

That is, until Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) comes to town. After stints in Albuquerque, Phoenix and Denver, Russell - a cross between a motorcycle-riding cowboy and a Zen master - has come to New York looking for heavier traffic. This is the same guy who once stood in the turbulence wake of an arriving 747 just to see what it felt like. Call him crazy... he'll take it as a compliment.

Fuelled by caffeine and machismo, a rivalry ensues between Nick and Russell. The one-upmanship becomes a contest of wits and wills, where stress is the great equaliser and bravado is the lowest common denominator, a game where the winner - not the loser - could lose it all... his job, his marriage, his mind.

Also starring Cate Blanchett as Connie Falzone, Angelina Jolie as Mary Bell, Jake Weber as Barry Plotkin, Vicki Lewis as Tina Leary. Directed by Mike Newell.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Next time, I go by bus.

If you have a fear of flying, don't watch this film. It will confirm your worst fear: the only reasons planes go up in the air is so they can fall back down.

Pushing tin is not about the falling-down of planes but the falling-down of two men who are supposed to stop the planes falling down. Nick and Russell are two testosterone-fuelled egomaniacs who both need to be the alpha male: the competition between them is what keeps the movie in the air (yes, that one was intended). As what goes up must come down, so who has gone up must also come down, and the bigger they are the harder they fall (love those clichés).

Finding out which of these two jerks is going to ruin his life first and worst is what keeps you hanging on in there right to the last moment. Unfortunately for you and for me, there is a last moment, and it comes in the greatest of Hollywood traditions: the cliché. Right when you though that two men couldn't piss each other off any more they start sharing and bonding. *Sighs* Why can't Hollywood accept the fact that people like unhappy endings? People like to see characters fail. People like to see dickheads get their just desserts. I will climb off my soapbox and mutter to myself for a while...

(Mutter, mutter, mutter..)

John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton are both pretty good. John is much better than anything else I have seen him in - more mature and more revealing. Billy Bob does his usual good job, immersing himself in a slightly weird persona. Cate Blanchett, however, absolutely shines as the New York Italian wife: big hair, big accent, big drama. This is the best performance in which I have seen her.

Pushing tin is a good piece of dramatic entertainment that any guy will enjoy, except maybe for the ending. Maybe. But don't let my inherent bad mood put you off.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level coarse language, adult themes)

Surveillance time

90 minutes (1:30 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

23 August 2000

Cinema surveillance images

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