February 6, 2009
Review in a Hurry: Don't be fooled by the ads-Push isn't any kind of superhero action blowout, but more of a Hong Kong crime drama. Except it's directed by a Scotsman and stars mostly American actors (Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning, for starters).
The Bigger Picture: The filmmakers behind Push would like you to believe that their story-in which the U.S. government uses psychically gifted agents ("The Division") to hunt down other psychics and inject them with a drug that might enhance their powers but will more likely kill them-has its basis in true events, such as Cold War and Nazi experiments.
But let's get real: The characters here are more X-Men than everymen. Some can make people's heads explodes. Others are psychokinetics, psychics, mind-erasers, healers...It's to the story's credit that it clues us in to its immense mythology rather quickly.
Nick (Evans) is hiding out in Hong Kong since the murder of his father by Division agent Carver (Djimon Hounsou), a "pusher" who can implant memories and thoughts into other people's heads. Nick can levitate objects, but not very well; as the movie begins, he's having trouble getting dice to roll over.
Then one day, Fanning shows up and gives him a flower, something his dad had prophesied a decade earlier. Stuff gets a lot more complicated from there: It involves not just the Division, but Hong Kong crime lords, a "watcher" from Nick's past (10,000 B.C.'s Camilla Belle) and a Maori (Cliff Curtis) with the ability to change the shape of objects (albeit only temporarily).
The best thing about the movie is that you can never predict exactly where it's going. The worst part is that you may not be exactly sure what all happened by the end. If it were in Cantonese with an all-Asian cast, folks like Quentin Tarantino and Harry Knowles would probably be dubbing Push one of the year's best. As is, stateside audiences may judge it more harshly, especially since Belle comes across as a lightweight version of Selma Blair.
The scene where Fanning's character gets drunk on cheap booze in hopes of increasing her psychic powers, though? Priceless.
The 180-a Second Opinion: Since the plot is already way too convoluted for Kids to follow, and the crime elements substantially more played up than the superheroics, would it really have killed them to go for an R rating, rather than cutting away from the implied Sex and gore?