Push has solid premise but not much else

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      Starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, and Djimon Hounsou. Rated 14A.

      Sometimes, when we are bored of Wii and Bionicles, my son and I will play a game: What Superpower Do You Want? Being a kid, he goes for flash like pyrokinesis or super-strength, whereas I’d prefer super-intelligence (for inventing things) and invulnerability (to enjoy them forever). Personal preferences aside, my son and I agree: superpowers are awesome!

      Watch the trailer for Push.

      Hence, I completely support the vogue for movie superheroes. What’s hard to take is that they’re all depressed: Hancock is a drunk, Wolverine is sad, even Superman—the Man of Freaking Steel!—is wistful and uneasy.

      And let’s not get started on Christian Bale.

      So I had high hopes for Push, a science-fiction adventure directed by Paul McGuigan. A prefect in the Guy Ritchie school of British slam-bam, McGuigan’s Gangster No. 1 was so taut and nasty that it made Paul Bettany seem threatening. With Push, McGuigan brings his kinetic eye to a story about psychic-soldier experiments gone awry, gifting and cursing the following generation. This is a solid premise, although I liked it better when it was called Firestarter, by Stephen King.

      The able cast includes Chris Evans (Nick, telekinetic), Camilla Belle (Kira, able to project thoughts onto others), and Dakota Fanning (Cassie, precognition). All are fleeing from evil government superguys led by Djimon Hounsou (Agent Henry Carver, wears nice suit), so it is understandable that they, too, are a messed-up bunch. Perhaps on most days, they get to use their powers to win lotteries or enjoy the fascinating architecture of Hong Kong.

      But in Push, they are always getting beaten up, seeing their own deaths, and getting into complicated double-cross schemes with other desperate, tense, sweaty supers. What they need is super-Prozac. Instead they get one chase scene after another, as McGuigan plasters over the many plot holes with quick cuts, flashbacks, changes of film stock, and disturbing glimpses of Fanning’s milky upper thighs. It’s entertaining, in a nervous, just-ate-ten-boxes-of-Nerds kind of way. Higher praise would be pushing it.




      Feb 7, 2009 at 11:30am

      Right on, Ron! Excellent review of a lame movie. And why would these pasty white kids try to hide from evil powers in Hong Kong? Wouldn't they blend in better in, say, Omaha? And how come Dakota Fanning isn't in school? Personally, my superpower would be the ability to transport out of a movie theatre showing a crappy movie and be back in my own living room in the blink of an eye.

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      Sep 5, 2009 at 6:23pm

      It's a funny old film, I loved that the frequent plot twists were actually part of the plot! My only big complaint was that it was stuck together with prophesy more than logic, like a backwards Nightwatch.

      You spend most of the film learning how the stuff works enough to work out that the ending is thoroughly ambiguous. There are so many ways to lie in this film's universe it is ridiculous! I sort of want to see it go off the deep end in a sequel and just collapse into mindgames, like a more colourful "basic".

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