The intense world of air-traffic controllers is played for both drama and laughs in Pushing Tin. John Cusack plays Nick Falzone, the top air traffic controller at New York's Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) Center, where he negotiates air traffic and landing patterns for the Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports, America's most congested airspace. It's a tough, stressful job that's highly demanding and Nick is very good at it -- and he takes no small amount of pride in that. So Nick is less than enthusiastic when a new controller comes on board; Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) transferred into TRACON from the Southwest, in search of a greater challenge. In direct contrast to the wired edginess of Nick's personality, Russell is a model of Zen cool who is so focused on planes it's said he once stood in the wake of a 747 just to know what it felt like. Soon work becomes a constant competition between Russell and Nick, and their competitiveness doesn't stop when work is over. However, the rivalry begins to take a different turn when Nick takes notice of Russell's beautiful but hard-drinking wife Mary (Angelina Jolie), while Nick's wife Connie (Cate Blanchett) finds herself more than a bit intrigued by Russell. Pushing Tin was written by Glen Charles and Les Charles, who previously received notice for their television work on such series as M*A*S*H, Cheers and Taxi, and directed by British filmmaker Mike Newell, who's last project, Donnie Brasco, also took him into a little seen side of New York City.
by Mark Deming synopsis