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DVD Review: Push
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Push DVDPush
Directed by Paul McGuigan
Starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle
Summit Entertainment
Rated PG-13
Release date: July 7, 2009

It’s a well-known fact that super powers are cool. Super powers mean anything can happen and it probably will – awesomely. So Push, a movie set in a world where possibly millions of people have some kind of power must be amazing…right?

Living among us, largely undetected, are people with extraordinary psychic powers. In 1945, the Nazi’s began conducting experiments on these special people, injecting them with radioactive Iodine that would turn them into super soldiers ready to do battle in psychic warfare. Today, the Nazi regime may have ended but the experiments continue thanks to Governments the world over who have set up Divisions. Their job is to scour the globe looking for people with psychic abilities and round them up for testing.

So far, everyone who has been injected has died. Until Kira (Camilla Belle). The injection works as it is supposed to on her, increasing her Pushing ability (I’ll explain shortly) and Kira escapes from Division with a syringe of the lethal potion. All under the watchful, evil eye of Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou). It is now Division’s priority to bring her back.

When Nick was a young boy he watched helplessly as his father was killed by Division. Before he died he told Nick that he would meet a girl who would hand him a flower and if he helped her, he would ‘help us all.’ Ten years later we meet Nick (Chris Evans) living in a shabby apartment in a rundown area of Hong Kong. He is struggling to master his telekinetic powers, trying to make his dice fall as he wants them to. This has lost him some serious gambling money which he owes to some nasty guys. To make matters worse, Division have tracked him down and want to take him in for testing.

Out of the blue, Nick opens his front door to thirteen-year-old street-wise Cassie (Dakota Fanning). She is a Watcher – who eventually hands Nick a flower – and shows him a picture she drew in her notebook of Nick and herself finding $6 million. If they find the girl with the case, they’ll be rich. What does he have to lose?

They are pursued by a Chinese family who want to be bigger than Division and take over the world or something, I don’t know. But they’re mean, ok? The whole family has psychic abilities. The daughter is a Watcher; Like Cassie she carries a little note book and draws the future, mostly pictures of tigers which she tells Cassie will be the cause of her death. The two sons have the most obscure power in the movie: they can shout. But, like, really loud and at such a frequency that it’ll make your ears bleed and fish explode in their tanks.

There are three types of psychic ability which feature most in the movie; Watchers (like Cassie) can see the future. Usually they draw what they see, be it someone’s death or a Hong Kong landscape. Specific details about these events are usually vague but mostly correct. Movers (like Nick) have telekinetic abilities and they can move objects without actually touching them. Pushers (like Kira) are able to put thoughts into your head (don’t let their pupils dilate!) and can make you believe whatever they want you to, even constructing full histories of parts of your life that never existed. Hook Waters (Cliff Curtis) has the coolest power. He can turn objects into anything he wants. Or make it appear so. Like when he wants to pay for a drink he takes a slip of white paper out of his wallet and it turns in to real money.

One big problem with this movie is there is too much talking not enough showing. For example, when Cassie and Nick first meet, Cassie says, ‘If we don’t find the girl and that case, really bad things happen, Nick.’ Bad things? Man, that can’t be good. The constant references to the evil Division began to irritate me too. This is an actual conversation between Hook and Cassie when they first meet:

Hook: ‘I know who you are. [To Nick] When I was in Division her mother was at the top of every watched list there was.’

Cassie: ‘You worked for Division?’
Hook: ‘You want to know about Division?’

Apart from the glimpse at the beginning we don’t see inside Division HQ and the whole government operation is basically a ghost story with Hounsou showing up every so often, looking mean. In a film, I don’t need the characters to keep telling each other (and me) that their lives are in danger and that if they don’t get this they will get killed by that etc etc. I want them to SHOW me. Show me how dangerous Division is. Show me how serious the threat to their lives is.

Despite the promise the early market scene shows for action scenes, not all of them live up to it. In particular the fight scene in the mensroom of a cafe between Kira and one of the Division agents. Kira ‘Pushes’ one of the Division guards, making him believe that he had a brother (he didn’t) who was killed by his Division partner (he wasn’t). The guard kills his buddy, only to realise it was a dirty trick. She could have made him kill his partner then himself. Problem solved. But she doesn’t, so the guard comes back for her and they have a fight. Well, it’s not really a fight, more an extended hug and Kira knocks the guard to the ground with one of those little yellow ‘wet floor’ signs.

Of course, a movie set in a world with people with super psychic abilities would not pass without at least a handful of very cool scenes. That’s what its here for. That’s what I’M here for. Push does not fail to deliver. In one scene, Nick confronts Carver and his guard in a restaurant (the guy has the power of people with incredible psychic abilities but Nick just struts into the building. Yeah…). There is a very cool hands-free gun fight between Nick and Carver’s Mover aide. Also – without wanting to give too much away – I will say that the ‘final battle’ demonstrates some cool special effects and awesome psychic powers.

Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning make an engaging on-screen coupling. Director Paul McGuigan (Gangster No. 1 and Lucky Number Slevin) ensures their natural chemistry shows through more than David Bourla’s script provides. Nick and Cassie’s relationship is similar to that of Léon and Mathilda in Léon: The Professional, but without so much weird sexual tension. Djimon Hounsou does a good job of being the creepy bad guy and should have had more scenes.

It’s all too convenient which makes it move along at a fair pace, so much so that it’s easy to skim over the glaring problems. This is a movie with some very cool ideas but not enough conviction to carry them off to full potential. I might even say it’s a fun movie. At a Push…

Extras:

The Extras are sparse and add little value to the disc. Feature-length commentary with director Paul McGuigan and stars Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning is the pick of a very small bunch. Feeling the way I did about the movie, I didn’t stick around to hear the whole thing.

A grand total of four deleted scenes lasting just over three minutes (why bother?) are also available with Paul McGuigan’s voice over.

Nearly-fascinating documentary ‘The Science Behind The Fiction’ is about how the ideas for the psychic powers in the movie came from real life examples. But at under ten minutes it’s too short to really elaborate.

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