Push * ½
Directed By: Paul McGuigan.
Written By: David Bourla.
Starring: Chris Evans (Nick Gant), Dakota Fanning (Cassie Holmes), Camilla Belle (Kira Hudson), Djimon Hounsou (Henry Carver), Cliff Curtis (Hook Waters), Ming-Na (Emily Hu), Neil Jackson (Victor Budarin), Hal Yamanouchi (Pop Father), Lu Lu (Pop Girl), Corey Stoll (Agent Mack), Scott Michael Campbell (Agent Holden), Maggie Siff (Teresa Stowe), Nate Mooney (Pinky Stein).
Push plays like the pilot of a TV show that may turn out to be decent. It spends so much time setting up the world in which the story takes place that it seems to forget that it actually has to tell a story as well. Every other scene in the film seems to involves one character pointing a gun at another character as they go through pages of dialogue to describe just what the hell is going on in the movie. It got to the point where I started wondering why any of these characters needed guns in the first place, since they seem to be able to do all sorts of cool things with their minds.
But there I go getting ahead of myself, and the movie again, so I guess I should do a little exposition of my own and tell you just what Push is about. Essentially it works like this: Nazis were doing experiments with the human mind, that didn’t stop of WWII. Now an evil government agency, The Division, tries to keep a handle on the all the people who have different abilities. There are Movers, who can throw things across the room, or stop things coming at them with a simple wave of their hand, Seers, who can see into the future, Sniffers who are really, really good at smelling things, Bleeders, who can kill or destroy anything just by starring at it and screaming really loud, Shifters, who can temporarily change objects into other objects, Menders, who can either heal or destroy your body by touching it and finally Pushers, who can make you believe anything is true, and get you to do whatever you want to. Whew, that was exhausting, and I’m still pretty sure there are at least of couple of different kinds of these mind people that I forgot, but truly, I don’t care enough to look it up, and I’m pretty sure you don’t care enough for me to feel bad about it either.
But that’s just the setup we need to go through before we get to the actual story of the movie. That involves a second generation mover (Chris Evans) being approached by a second generation seer (Dakota Fanning) to help her find Evans’ ex-girlfriend (Camilla Belle) who is a Pusher who stole a serum from the Division, that could bring them down, and help Fanning free her mother from prison. Also pursuing the ex-girlfriend is the Division’s top Pusher (Djimon Hounsou) who wants to create a race of super soldiers for the American army, although he clearly speaks with a non-American accent.
I exhausted writing all of that, and you’re probably exhausted reading it all (if you managed to get through it that is – I have a feeling most people stopped reading somewhere in paragraph 2). But imagine if you will instead of suffering through a few minutes of reading, you had go through over an hour of actually watching it all. Then you’d get an idea of what watching Push is really like.
The movie takes place in Hong Kong, and so at least there are some pretty images to look at. And the action sequences, when they actually start coming, are handled fairly well by director Paul McGuigan, who made the interesting Gangster No. 1 and the underrated Wicker Park, and has been on a slow decline ever since. Just about the only thing worth watching in Push is Fanning, who somehow manages to create a real character out of what was obviously a poorly written screenplay. Yes, she strikes me as a child trying to play grown up, but then again, that’s who her character is so it works. At least, when she’s on screen, we know someone put some thought and effort into the movie. The rest of the cast sleepwalks through their roles, probably just doing the movie for the paycheck and the chance for a holiday in Hong Kong. I hope they enjoyed making the movie, because I highly doubt there are going to be too many people who enjoy watching it.