- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Summit Entertainment
Reviewed by David Medsker
ou can see why Summit was interested in “Push”: the Hollywood pitch would be that it’s an “X-Men”-type property that could be made on the cheap. Summit only has one movie in their library that’s made any money, you see, and they’ve already fired the director of that movie from its sequel because, yep, she wanted to spend more money. So you can see their desire in keeping things cheap. And as cheap properties go, “Push” has incredible potential, exploring a world where people can push memories, or even the thought of suicide, into someone’s head. There are also watchers, shadows, movers, sniffs, bleeders, shifters, wipers and stitchers. If only the story was as clever as the concept: it never quite finds its rhythm, resulting in some dizzying highs surrounded by long stretches of down time, plus a plot that goes from dense to convoluted in seconds flat.
Chris Evans is Nick, a mover (he can move objects with his mind) living in Hong Kong. Division, the branch of the US Government that experiments with psychic abilities (they also killed Nick’s father once he left Division and “went rogue”), pays a visit to Nick because a pusher named Kira (Camilla Belle) just escaped their facility with something they consider rather valuable, and their watchers (clairvoyants) say she’s in Hong Kong as well. Nick hasn’t seen Kira, but he does get a visit from a pint-sized watcher named Cassie (Dakota Fanning), who wants to use Kira’s prize as a means of freeing her mother from Division lockup. Division is the least of Nick and Cassie’s worries, though; the Chinese mafia, led by a bunch of bleeders (their scream can burst blood vessels) and one very powerful watcher (Xiao Lu Lu), are on the hunt for Kira as well. Cassie sees nothing but death for her and Nick, so the two of them, along with Kira, a shadow (can conceal people’s whereabouts from watchers) and a shifter (creates short-term optical illusions) must come up with a plan that will enable them to outsmart the watchers and outrun everyone else.
Whew. That’s a mouthful, right there, and to the movie’s credit, they make an effort to avoid overwhelming the audience by introducing us to the different psychic abilities one at a time. They save the really overwhelming stuff for later, using some “Memento”-style trickery (memory wipes, cryptic notes) that is logically sound but not very fulfilling. The acting falls into the same trap. Djimon Hounsou has developed a thing for screaming since his Oscar nomination for “Blood Diamond,” and it’s not his best quality. Evans is fine but bland, as is the lovely but luckless Camilla Belle as Kira. She’s bound to get a good script eventually, right?
Then there’s Dakota Fanning, who may as well have “I want to be Jodie Foster” tattooed to her forehead. Between this and the rape movie (“Hounddog”), she is clearly looking to expand her range as a Serious Actress. It’s an admirable goal, but she should be choosier about the projects she thinks will enable her to grow. That said, she’s a stitch in the scene after she drinks a fifth of alcohol (it helps clarify the visions) and clearly can’t handle her booze.
Again, there is tremendous potential here, and Summit would clearly like to explore it in depth – all signs at the movie’s end point towards a sequel that I’m betting either never gets made or goes straight to DVD – but they needed to get this one right before even thinking about “Push” as a franchise. They didn’t completely screw it up, but they delivered well short of the concept’s potential.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Summit Entertainment may be relatively new to the game, but surely they could have done more with the Blu-ray release of “Push.” While the addition of deleted scenes and an audio commentary with director Paul McGuigan and stars Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning is a nice start, this is the kind of film that practically demands making-of featurettes on everything from production design to special effects. Instead, the only other extra included is a brief discussion on the real-life possibilities of powers like the ones that appear in the film (“The Science Behind the Fiction”). In other words, don't expect much and you won't be disappointed.