Saturday 14 September 2019

Movie Review: Push (2009)

A science fiction superhero thriller, Push crashes into an incomprehensible plot and burns on the fuel of witless character definition.

Various people who have enhanced psychic abilities are hunted down by an evil government group called The Division, made up of baddies who also have psychic powers. Nick (Chris Evans) a "Mover" who can manipulate objects with his thoughts, is hiding out in Hong Kong having been hunted all his life by Agent Carver (Djimon Hounsou). Now Nick is approached by young Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a "Watcher" who can see and draw snippets of the future.

Cassie needs Nick's help to locate Kira (Camilla Belle), a Pusher who escaped the Division after proving resilient to the strongest experimental injection. Kira and Nick have a history, but now she in possession of a case with mysterious contents that can bring down the Division and save Cassie's captive mother. In addition to Carver and his goons, a Chinese family featuring the intimidating Pop Girl (Xiao Lu Li) and men who can scream their enemies to death are also chasing the action.

Pushers, Watchers, Movers, Sniffers, Shifters, Wipers, Bleeders, Stitchers, Shadows...whatever. It takes no longer than 10 minutes for Push to collapse in a heap of nonsense overload, writer David Bourla and director Paul McGuigan clueless as to how to assemble a coherent narrative out of assorted hokum. Some of the visuals are impressive, but the film's style and good use of Hong Kong locations don't come close to saving the inept story.

Among the barely explained core elements are the reasons behind the prolonged war between two groups of psychics, the types of experiments being conducted by the Division, and why anyone is supposed to care. If weaponization is the objective, the current abilities on display by all sides, including stopping a hail of bullets with bare hands, influencing enemies to kill each other in a blink of an eye and predicting enemy movements, appear quite effective already.

Meanwhile, the film is riddled with internal inconsistencies related to how and when the psychic superpowers can be deployed. The case everyone is chasing takes pride of place as a most boring MacGuffin, and the bewildering revelation that it contains a serum already developed by the Division adds to the confusion. How or why a single syringe of a drug already in use will change the world order is a mystery abandoned for another day.

Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning are defeated by the material, while the other cast members don't even try and surrender quickly to superficial overacting. All the characters are dropped into the action with barely any background or context, with the notable exception of Cassie's mother, who is evidently central to the plot but never makes an appearance. She was doubtless being saved for the sequel, which was mercifully never pushed out.

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