Pushing Tin

Director:Mike Newell
Writers: Glen Charles and Les Charles
Fox 2000 Pictures; R; 120 minutes
cast: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie

This up-tempo comedy opens with a fascinating, well-paced look at the fly-by-night machismo of air traffic controllers. It closes with a tired face-off between manic New Yorker Nick Falzone (John Cusack) and coolly confident Southwestern newcomer, Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) that sends each after the other's wife in a scramble for dominance. Somewhere between the fresh premise and the exhausted macho posturing lies Pushing Tin. Elements of cliché detour the film's promise and new ideas, but the ride isn't too bumpy. Even when Thornton and Cusack have to spar like testosterone-driven alpine goats their acting remains better than normal, and Angeline Jolie enlivens the screen as Bell's enticingly dissatisfied wife.