13 June 2009

Movie Review: Push


F

Push
2009,111min, PG-13
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writer: David Bourla
Cast includes: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou, Neil Jackson, Corey Stoll
Release Date: 6th February 2009

“Push” is a revolting sci-fi mash up of confused plotting and leaden performances, a film with barely a merit to its name. Directed by Paul McGuigan the insanely silly and plodding film rips of every major sci-fi hit of the last two years, it’s like a filthy combination of “Heroes” and “Jumper”, without the any of the positive elements that peppered those two extravaganzas. I didn’t utterly hate “Jumper” on its release last year unlike the majority of people, but I really detested “Push”, unlike the aforementioned 2008 film it lacks any fun or frivolity whilst piling on the narrative shortfalls and dizzyingly insipid Mythos. In honesty as soon as the opening credits start with a dense opening narration from Dakota Fanning one becomes aware that the ensuing film will not be bordering on the fringes of reality, but you don’t have to be gritty and routed in the believable to entertain. Sadly “Push “doesn’t adhere to this most basic of cinematic principals and offers up an abhorrent and completely implausible piece of sci-fi hokum.

Recounting the story of “Push” is punishment in its own special way, but I’ll give it a bash for your sake. After seeing his father brutally murdered by a shifty government organization called “division”, Nick Gant (Chris Evans) has since gone into hiding, taking his very special abilities with him. Nick is a “mover” or someone endowed with telekinetic abilities, and represents only a fraction of a selection of humans who hold unique powers across the globe. Others include “Watchers” (can see into possible futures), “Pushers” (can put thoughts in peoples head) and “Bleeders” (emit supersonic sounds that cause others ears to bleed). Since the Nazis attempted to turn these superpower humans into weapons in the 40’s every government since has quietly tried to follow suite, accumulating in “division” a branch in government that specializes in capturing and testing on those with abilities. In a twist of fate Nick meets 13 year old Watcher Cassie (Dakota Fanning) who explains that a former love interest of Nick is being held hostage, along with Cassie’s own mother. As the two begin to a plan to free their loved ones from the governments branch Nick’s ex-lover Kira (Camilla Belle) escapes, after finally being the first subject to survive a lethal injection. The government begins to hunt her as do Cassie and Nick, and upon finding her they finally stumble across a plan that could free them from Division forever.

“Push” is impossible to derive joy from, it’s empty calorie and hyper stylized but without an iota of logic, sense or excitement beneath its glossy surface. It’s an insufferable bore of a motion picture destined to be forgotten and take a few promising careers down with it. Director McGuigan has proved before that he favors style over substance but in “Push” he takes this fetish to a sickening degree, drawing up some nice atmospheric oriental cinematography but never once succeeding in making his characters believable or the story interesting. I suppose one has to draw screenwriter David Bourla into this crime to, if I see a less impressive science fiction screenplay in 2009 than “Push” then we’re it’ll have been a bad year for the genre. The various action moments built up are unremarkable in the extreme, it’s a certainty that “Push” will emerge as one of the cheapest films moonlighting as a blockbuster this year. The effects are basic and the set-pieces formulaic and undersized, both superhero and action fanatics would be advised to put their cinematic bucks someplace else. Granted “Wolverine” was hardly a wonder but at least it had some sizzling action moments. Go see it again rather than rent this tiresome junk on DVD.

Chris Evans is a charismatic and likeable actor and I do hope that at some point he finds a character worth turning into a decent franchise. However his stilted effort as the lead in “Push” ensures it won’t be this screen persona that allows him to start building a career as a handsome Hollywood lead, a combination of bad acting and weak box-office thankfully nailing that prospect into a coffin. Dakota Fanning is lively and credible but all around her there are actors underperforming and lazing for the paycheck, Djimon Hounsou in particular is capable of much better work than the generic and cold turn he provides as the movies chief antagonist. As for poor Camilla Belle, her days are numbered, she’s a pretty face but there are many more beautiful in the business and her acting chops are nonexistent. Wooden and painfully unconvincing she single handedly kills what little energy “Push” offers in her given scenes.

Cribbed from a thousand better sources and boasting an array of dull and jaw smashingly terrible action moments “Push” is a sci-fi turd. The performances are bad but what really stings is the badly paced, wildly unoriginal and flat footed screenplay, never giving the uninspired and needlessly dense premise a chance. Hopefully no further installments in this stupid and frustrating story will be conceived, and before attacking another banal and unmercifully weak idea director McGuigan will stop to think it over. Are better yet just retire.



A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

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