REVIEW: Push [2009]

“It’s a shiny, shimmery bead”

So, I’ll just come out and say it … I enjoyed Lucky Number Slevin. It was stylish, Ben Kingsley was a good kind of hammy, and Josh Hartnett’s penchant for wooden acting worked with the character. You know another thing I really enjoy? That little television show called “Heroes”. Trust me, it’s a goodie. Why do I say all this? Well because director Paul McGuigan has taken his action-infused storytelling to the new film Push, basically using a similar premise as the before mentioned NBC show, but with swearing. Sorry, that sounded as though I didn’t like it and that would be a very wrong assessment. In actuality, Push is a highly energetic thrill ride, introducing us to “skilled” young people coming to grips with their powers and their future of possibly being the only ones to save the world. Would I have liked more action/fight scenes? If the successful ones included are any indication, most definitely. However, the fact that screenwriter David Bourla had a yarn to spin intelligently and was able to do so in a mainstream actioner that most producers probably would have hijacked into a jumbled mess of cut scenes showing explosions, I’ll except the fact that this is a set-up for sequels. And I’ll probably be in attendance to experience what those installments have to show too.

Leave it to the Nazis to begin the experimentation that us lovely Americans appropriated into our own government lust for absolute power. The results of these tests led to the existence of “pushers” (that’s telekinesis Kyle—sorry, lame Tenacious D reference), “sniffers” (seers of the past and locators of the present), “watchers” (clairvoyants), and “stitchers” (healers) among others. As any good government beta project has power-wielding humans on their payroll, so does this one. Division is full of patriots attempting to create a new drug that will enhance those with abilities, forming an undefeatable army more powerful than any nuclear bomb. Unfortunately for them, that drug seems to kill every single patient (read prisoner) they inject with it. That is until Camilla Belle’s Kira recovers from a flat-line to escape captivity with a little help from a rolling glass orb, (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it). With her now the new patient zero, in possession of the drug and hunted by Division, she also becomes top on the list of people to find for our ragtag bunch of heroes—a couple of newbies to their powers’ true strength, who also see the future as ultimately holding their own demise.

Now the actual plot is a lot more convoluted and complicated than just searching for this girl before the baddies get her. But don’t misunderstand me, as it is a jumbled mess in a good way. All the crazy powers are shown and utilized to their full potential; having “pushers” that can implant memories in your head and make you do their bidding lends itself to changing identities and turning good guys into bad and vice versa; and my favorite freakshow, played by the always solid Cliff Curtis, (co-star of leading man Chris Evans in the masterpiece that was Sunshine), is the “shifter”, or one who can shapeshift objects for a limited amount of time, makes wrapping your head around what is happening somewhat interesting. Three converging contingents doesn’t help matters either as the heroes are battling against time, their own mortality, and both Division and the Chinese power family looking to steal the drug to make them the most powerful nation in the world. Did I mention it all takes place in China? Now this is a very big plus in my mind because the local is exotic, the city’s architecture strange and unknown to me, and it just adds another level of uniqueness to an already “fresh” sci-fi thriller.

And the cast is very good, culling together a bunch of on-the-cusp stars—familiar faces that I’ve enjoyed long enough; they deserve to be enjoyed by the movie-going population who only know “A-Listers”. Well, that is all but Dakota Fanning … that girl has been huge for a while now. But here’s the kicker, she is finally old enough for me to enjoy. I always appreciated her acting prowess, but I hated the fact that she wasn’t believable as a child. Always a thirty-year old in a ten-year old body, her intellect and naturalism finally have been equaled by her appearance. Letting her swear doesn’t hurt either. My favorites, though, are villainous baddie Djimon Hounsou, the original Chun-Li Ming-Na, the aforementioned Curtis and lead Evans who carries the film with his physicality and emotive acting throughout. The guy is still way too underappreciated. And last but not least, the man of the hour, Neil Jackson. As Hounsou’s number two Victor, Jackson is the ultimate badass, wreaking havoc and just being cool as hell. You want action; just wait for him to bust loose.

But let’s not forget director McGuigan while praising the rest. He has an eye and definite flair for the dramatic. Utilizing a very nice score and obscure tracklist, to me at least, helps too. With a couple nice maneuvers using camera-tricks, (I loved the sniffing sequences of an object and watching it unmoving as the things around it change with the passing of time as well as the entrance into a motel hallway with a fluid camera panning the characters on the fringe until it makes a 180 turn to show Evans as he reaches room 5A), I was never bored. The special effects were well crafted also, the pulsing of the “pushers”, the destruction of high-rise buildings and giant market fish tanks, (I loved the exploding fish), all succeeded with flying colors. I can only hope that this is just laying the groundwork for subsequent entries, because honestly, if these kids get the chance to go all out next time war brews … that’s something I’d like to see. Oh and to meet Fanning’s Cassie’s mother—definitely on my to-do list.

Push 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

[1] MING-NA, DAKOTA FANNING, and CHRIS EVANS (left to right) star in PUSH, a Summit Entertainment release. Photo credit: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment
[2] DAKOTA FANNING stars in PUSH, a Summit Entertainment release. Photo credit: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment


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