Sunday, May 24, 2009


Year: 2009
Director: Paul McGuigan
Cast: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Djimon Hounsou, Camilla Belle

When I first heard about Push, my first thought was Jumper. Or TV's Heroes. Stuff about special people with abilities being hunted down by shady government people. I also heard mostly bad reviews for this film, but I was intrigued nevertheless.

Push focuses on individuals with special powers, and how they have been experimented on by secret government organisations called Division since World War II. Our story takes place in Hong Kong, where a young man named Nick Gant (Chris Evans) struggles to make a living by street hustling and gambling. Nick is a mover, a telekinetic who can move objects with his mind.

One day, he meets Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a watcher i.e. someone who can draw the future. She tells him that they need to find a girl who has escaped from Division's headquarters, a pusher. Pushers are people who can manipulate others' minds, and this particular girl, Kira (Camilla Belle) is the only survivor of Division's latest experiments. Division is doing everything they can to get her back, especially since she has something that belongs to them.

But finding Kira before Division will be hard, since the Hong Kong triads, made up of a watcher girl and two male bleeders (they emit a high pitch scream that shatters everything in earshot, including eardrums) are looking for her too. Eventually Nick and Cassie succeed in locating her, and this is where Nick realises that Kira was his ex-girlfriend. The duo seek help from a handful of other special people to protect Kira from Division's hunters, led by Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou), a powerful pusher himself. Do they succeed?

The one thing that separates Push from Jumper is its driving force. Jumper relies on fast paced action while Push is character driven. Director Paul McGuigan successfully makes his characters matter in most of the scenes, even the supporting ones. He also made an odd choice of choosing Hong Kong as the setting for his movie, but I must say that it was a wise decision. I mean, isn't it tiring to see Hollywood set their films in the States? Putting this story in Asia will do wonders for marketing good filming locations to other directors, not to mention increasing audiences' interest in someplace else besides cities like LA or New York.

Chris Evans is slowly embracing his action hero persona. He already has the looks and the charm. Being Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four is one thing, but being the cool guy like Nick who slowly learns to care for others besides himself is just fun to watch. I hope to see him in meatier roles somewhere down the line. Dakota Fanning on the other hand is impressive as Cassie. This girl has surely grown up now. Her image in this film is wilder than we've seen her in. She sports coloured hair and wild child fashion sense, and it adds to her performance. Djimon Hounsou is effective as the cold villain Carver, but Camilla Belle still hasn't quite gotten past her wooden acting skills yet. It doesn't quite endear her character to the audience.

Push has great potential, but unfortunately the plot becomes way too convoluted in the second half. There are more twists and turns taking place than there are slopes on the Swiss Alps, and by the time you get to the end, you'll probably start wondering what's the point of the movie again. McGuigan keeps you guessing indeed, but the weight of the plot is too much and it collapses the movie and spoils the fun. The ending isn't too satisfactory either.

But I'll give credit where credit is due. It sure is better than Jumper. My advice is to watch this and ignore the plot. Enjoy the action unfolding, particularly when Nick takes on a fellow mover. Awesome stuff. (3.5/5)

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