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By Admin | February 7, 2009

“Push” provides some interesting conundrums for the cinemagoer. Judging it as a piece of visual splendor, the rank would be rather high. Taking the story into account however, would lower said rank tremendously. It’s the kind of film you wish had no sound – perhaps the studio should have eliminated the dialogue and replaced it cue cards every few minutes like the silent films of old. Even substituting the pretentiously annoying soundtrack with a lone piano man would have made this picture so much more satisfying to marvel at. Too bad it’s not 1923.

The film has all the presence of a comic book only it does not use a specific one as its skeletal structure. It certainly uses the traditions as inspirations though. After all, this is indeed an origins story.

Nick (Chris Evans) is currently living in Hong Kong trying to make ends meet. He saw his dad meet his maker at the hands of Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou) about a decade ago and he has been on the run ever since. Before he is murdered though, his father delivers him an important message. He tells Nick that someday soon a girl is going to give him a flower, and when that happens, he is to help this girl no matter what. Nick looks a bit puzzled at first but he doesn’t show doubt once his dad tells him that he learns this news from someone he “trusts” and that it is sure to come true.

Fast-forward to Hong Kong and we see Nick attempt to gather financial means by way of gambling. You see Nick has a special skill; he is able to move things with his mind like a Jedi. He just isn’t very good at it. One day a young girl with multi-colored hair (an all-grown-up Dakota Fanning) shows up at his door with a drawing. Cassie (as we learn her to be called) shares with him that she too has a special ability. She can see the future, only her skills aren’t that great yet. But neither are his so this is going to be something they work on together no doubt.

There is another girl that falls into the picture. Kira (Camilla Belle) is first introduced to us strapped down to a bed awaiting some sort of injection. She has special psychic abilities too, and a secret US government agency called “The Division” is attempting an experiment on her. Only it goes awry real quick when she freaks out, escapes, and heads to Hong Kong to seek out you know whom.

Each of these characters falls under some sort of labeling. There are “Watchers” who can see into the future and “Movers” who can move things with their mind. “Bleeders” are the most interesting of the bunch (and of course fill the villain role) and can cause your head to explode by emitting a high-pitched frequency from their mouths. “Pushers” can actually project thoughts or feelings or even memories into someone’s mind (like a human version of “Total Recall”).

The first act of the movie introduces an interesting premise of a tired formula. We’ve seen films where psychics are used to track certain people (“Minority Report”) just like we have seen a dozen superhero movies where good fights evil. “Push” starts out on the right foot but David Bourla’s script soon takes a tumble down the stairs. He follows the traditional principles rather closely, never veering off into his own path. Every character connects to each other rather conveniently, leaving the element of surprise home with the dog. He even adds more connection by providing a love story in the midst of it all (and not a very good one at that). Can’t characters just meet each other somehow and help each other out without having some past love episode? Not likely in our cinematic futures.

Perhaps the most praiseworthy aspect here is the direction by Paul McGuigan (“Lucky Number Slevin”). He chooses to keep the cinematography close and personal, giving “Push” and almost independent feel. There is nothing flashy here, even when it comes to special effects. It’s like he actually cares about story which is something rarely shown in big budget movies. The set design is worth commenting on also, as everything – from wall paper to the furniture – is so arresting that you almost can’t help yourself from looking away from the characters and/or action. Which once again adds to the above argument that this should have been a silent film.

Now to conclude… “Push” isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not a very good one. There are some interesting ideas presented (especially with the various abilities shown) that simply get lost in an ocean of cliché.

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