Zooming in on Nick's life as a controller at New York's Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), this film depicts the sheer intensity and pressure of holding the lives of hundreds of people at a time in the palm of your hand.
Looking for a career in air traffic control? Don't watch Pushing Tin. [Warning: This review gives away several key plot points. But since the film's not worth spending your hard-earned money to see it anyway, read on ...] Zooming in on Nick's life as a controller at New York's Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), this film depicts the sheer intensity and pressure of holding the lives of hundreds of people at a time in the palm of your hand. Dialogue describes the high alcoholism rates, drop-out rates, divorce rates and suicide rates of these men and women who work the scopes, directing planes safely through the skies. Still, Pushing Tin isn't so much about careers as it is about relationships and marriage. Nick and Russell are both married. Nick cheats on his wife (Connie) with Russell's wife (Mary). The resulting drama sends Nick's life spiraling out of control.
Positive Elements: Moviegoers are left with a strong sense that marriage is worth saving and that infidelity is "usually" destructive. (Sadly, viewers are also left with the impression that, if handled correctly, marital unfaithfulness can actually enhance a relationship.) Nick, even though caught in a moment of indiscretion, loves his wife and regrets his actions. He goes to great lengths to win his bride back. Both Nick and Russell demonstrate heroism when they risk their lives by staying inside the control center guiding planes to safety while the building is being evacuated after a bomb threat. Nick and Russell demonstrate great pride in their work and strive to be the best they can be when sitting in front of their scopes.
Spiritual Content: One stray comment makes light of baptism, repentance and sin.
Sexual Content: Nick and Mary have sex. Mary's bare breasts are shown several times after the fact. Nick has sex with his wife, but no nudity arises here and all that is shown is the "before" and "after." Sexual innuendoes and coarse jokes are thrown about from time to time. There's even a joke about bestiality. In an effort to make Nick jealous, Connie dishonestly boasts that she has had "raucous" sex with Russell ("We should have been wearing hard hats"). Russell tells Nick it's okay that he slept with Mary because, "We're men, we can't help it."
Violent Content: A couple of intense scenes show airliners nearly hitting each other. Nick and Russell almost come to blows at work, but the two are separated by coworkers.
Crude or Profane Language: Foul language laces Pushing Tin. The f-word (including motherf-----), the s-word, as well as a significant amount of mild profanity, mars the dialogue. Jesus' name is used in vain on several occasions.
Drug and Alcohol Content: Excessive use of alcohol occurs throughout the film. It seems as though everyone drinks—constantly. Beer. Wine. Vodka. Whiskey. Gin. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it contains alcohol. Nick and Mary's sexual interlude occurs after dining out and consuming a large amount of wine. While intoxicated, the two both drive their cars to Mary's house. Later, Mary drinks and drives again. It is implied more than once that Mary is an alcoholic. Cigarettes also make an appearance.
Other Negative Elements: Nick and Russell play a dangerous game of one-upmanship, racing their cars and motorcycles, dodging through speeding traffic and even playing with the lives of airline passengers at work, trying to prove who's the "better man."
Summary: There's one major negative element of Pushing Tin that I've saved for this summary statement. One graphic scene has the potential—planted in the brain of just the right (or wrong) person—to create a real-life tragedy. Russell is known for his bravado and foolhardy stunts. Early in the film, videotape is shown of him standing on a runway directly under a giant 747 jet as it lands. Later, when Nick's life has unraveled, he comes to Russell for advice on how to straighten it back out. Russell takes him to a Southwestern airport, and the two stand on the pavement, waiting for a jumbo jet to descend. As in the videotape shown earlier, their bodies—blasted by the jet wash—are flung high into the air and blown backwards 50 feet or more. They bounce along the ground and finally come to a bleeding halt on the desert sand. It's all great fun for them, and in fact, the incident inspires Nick to patch his life back together. Not something impressionable teens need to see. Pushing Tin should come with a warning label: "Do Not Try This at Home!"