The minute I got home after watching Push, I googled the film to see if it had been based on a movie. There was no other reason for this act than to find a promising story presented in better, more coherent and descriptive fashion. Sadly, there is no book. The film is based on the screenplay written by David Bourla. Maybe I can encourage him to sell his idea to someone who can actually do something worthwhile with it.
From the opening scene of the film, Push excited me. I hadn’t heard much about it, but when previews started popping up recently, I knew it was catering to an audience of me. Set in Hong Kong, the story centers around a group of people with psychic-enhanced powers like super-smell, telekinesis and precognition. While our central characters are ex-patriots, living their life trying to avoid being found, there are others with powers that work for government branches called the “Division,” trying to round them up. It’s a battle that’s been fought for over 50-years since the Nazis began the ability experiments in an attempt to create human weapons.
Director Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin, Wicker Park) sets up a exhilarating, whirlwind pace where the action never seems to stop whether they’re running or fighting, and though sometimes a little head-spinning, the visual effects are fun to watch and, dare I say, are grounded in reality. (McGuigan chose to stay away from to may computer manipulated effects which gave the film a very gritty, cool look, and I can appreciate that.) What was lacking, for me, was an attention to character development and good storytelling. I guess that places the blame on Bourla who’s concept was stellar but the final product just didn’t deliver.
We’re introduced to Nick Gant, played by Chris Evans (Fantastic Four), a fledgling Mover. A Mover is someone who can manipulate kinetic energy. Cassie Holmes, played by Dakota Fanning (The Secret Life of Bees, War of the Worlds), shows up at his front door with a plan to take down the Division for good. As a Watcher, she can track the ever-changing future, but only steps behind is a Chinese gang as well as some Division agents led by Henry Carver, played by Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond), a very well-trained Pusher. (A pusher is someone who can suggest thoughts and memories into their targets.) There are many other kinds of superhumans, and I don’t want to spoil to much of the storyline but talking too much about the other characters, but Camille Belle (When a Stranger Calls), also plays Kira who, as it turns out, plays an extremely pivotal role in the film. (Whether anyone told her or not this might be determined by how sluggishly she acts for the course of the movie.)
As a self-proclaimed sci-fi geek, I can’t say I hated the film, but also as a sci-fi geek, my mind is still teeming with how much cooler and better the entire film could have been with some tweaks, some repetitive scenes cut out and some better dialogue. The fact that the end of the film is the perfect setup for a sequel makes me a little wary, but also kind of excited by the idea that with a better script, they could get a second chance.
Push is like a smashup of Jumper, Kung Fu Hustle and Wanted. There’s a lot of talk but nothing to really back it up. On the plus side, Dakota Fanning is still a great actress even though she’s no longer a midget. If you’re looking for something to tide you over until this comes out on DVD, (I highly suggest that you save your cash and utilize your Netflix.) I recommend Timur Bekmambetov’s Night Watch and Day Watch based on a tetraology of Russian novels by Sergei Lukyanenko. It has the same feel of direction and storytelling but it won’t leave you as confused and will leave you more satisfied. Plus, it’s always good to step outside the box.
See Cameron’s review here!