Review by Jack Foley
ACCORDING to director Paul McGuigan, the premise of Push lies in the real-life Cold War experiments of 1949, when scientists began to experiment on what the brain could do.
Watching the film, however, viewers may tend to feel the premise stems from any number of superhero adventures, from TV’s Heroes to The X-Men franchise, Wanted and beyond.
McGuigan’s film is a hugely disappointing experience that’s both lazily derivative of far better movies and needlessly complex to boot.
In a nutshell, Nick Grant (Chris Evans) is a second generation telekinetic, or mover, who has been in hiding ever since a shadowy government agency known as The Division, and led by agent Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou), murdered his father.
He’s forced out of hiding, however, when a teenage clairvoyant, or watcher, named Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), seeks his help in locating a briefcase she claims holds $6 million.
To find it, they will also have to find an escaped pusher named Kira (Camilla Belle), who is the only person to have survived The Division’s experiments.
As the pair move closer to their goal, they also have to negotiate a rival team of deadly psychics, and battle their own fears and insecurities.
McGuigan’s film, set in Hong Kong, creates a world in which anything is possible and no one is who they seem. Hence, viewers are asked to get their heads around movers, watchers, pushers, stitches, sniffs, bleeders and sniffs… to name but a few of the various telekinetics on show.
But while Push sets up an intriguing universe, it squanders any of its potential because of an uninteresting plot and uninspired, dull characters.
Fanning, in particular, plays a particularly precocious teen who acts and dresses too old for her years, while Belle fails to inject any emotion into the supposedly key role of Kira.
Evans brings his usual stock charisma to the role of Nick but is short-changed by the limitations of David Bourla’s illogical screenplay and Hounsou’s villain isn’t afforded enough time to really pose much of a threat.
McGuigan tries to compensate for some of the film’s lapses in logic by throwing in plenty of set pieces, but even they tend to pale by comparison to the best that the genre has to offer, while some of his telekinetics are more annoying than impressive – especially the bleeders, who must scream as loud as possible to unleash their powers.
An open ending that fails to neatly tie together many of the plot strands alarmingly suggests the possibility of a sequel that very few people will want to see.
Far from leaving sci-fi fans whooping with delight, Push will probably have them screaming with rage.
Running time: 111mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release Date: June 29, 2009
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Chris Evans interview
- Dakota Fanning interview