Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Push movie review

This 2009 superpower action thriller is directed by Paul McGuigan (he of Lucky Number Sleven and Wicker Park remake fame) and stars Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camille Belle, and Djimon Hounsou (in a very Haitian from the Heroes tv show kind of role). Basically, it’s the story of a group of psychics who all have varying agrees of abilities. Some are Watchers (they can see the future), some are movers (telekinesis), and so on and so forth. Anyway, taking place entirely in Hong Kong, Nick Grant (played by Evans) is a Mover who is still haunted by the murder of his father by the Division, a US government agency that is sent to track down and capture specials in order to use their abilities. Along the way he meets Cassie Holmes (played by Fanning) who has foreseen the future and the only way to save their kind is to find a young girl who has escaped the division, the only survivor of an experiment with the power to control people’s minds. Can Nick become the hero his father always wanted him to be, or will he just end up being another captured guinea pig?

First off, the visuals are really quite nice here. I really liked how the movie communicates the abilities the characters have. It’s down and dirty, gritty and realistic as any movie dealing with superpowers can be. Like when a villain screams ala X-Men’s Banshee, the surrounding area shakes and vibrates, the camera pulled to an extreme close-up of the character screaming. When a character uses the ability to see into a subjects past, they can only do so by coming into contact with the objects the subject touches, and everything moves in fast rewind from when last the subject used the object. This puts a limit of the abilities and makes things much more believable and acceptable. Because let’s get real, if someone had Magneto’s ability to manipulate metal, he can just kill off humanity and destroy the world with a wave of his hand. But he never does, because well, it’ll all be over in one movie. Anyway, the way Push expresses the superpowers is frankly the best I’ve ever seen.

The actors are all pretty decent. Djimon Honsou is a great actor that loves choosing crappy movies. Evans plays a slight variation of his Human Torch character from the Fantastic Four movies. Camille Belle is hot as usual. However Dakota Fanning, man, is really scary for a 14-year old. I mean it’s like she’s a robot, dead behind the eyes, listless, like she’s lived this long life and is tired of it all. Seriously, the girl freaks the hell out of me. She should play one of the Children of the Corn kid’s, because that’s the role she was born to play.

What I thought was really stupid about this movie is the way some of the scenes and story plot points were shot. For instance, the movie takes place in Hong Kong and everyone’s Chinese except for these few white people who are the superpowers. Anyway, one of the characters I being followed and it’s really obvious who’s following her because, the men following her are all white men in suits that are over 6 feet tall, that tower over all the “tiny” Asians. And when they catch up to her she’s like, “what, I was being followed?” Move your head just a little and you can see the only other white people in the sea of Chinese people. Frankly I thought this was absurd lazy storytelling (there are more than 5 white people in the whole of Hong Kong). Also Djimon Honsou’s character is a major Division agent and he claims that they have 20 of the most powerful Watchers divining the future for him at all times, and yet he never sees anything bad that comes his way? What?

The movie is also really let down by a totally mind boggling third act with plot holes so big you could drive another movie through it and not even notice. I mean the whole third act nearly undermines the first 2 acts by making no sense, leaving the viewers to wonder how any of the characters came up with the conclusions or actions they ended up with. It’s like either the writers didn’t feel like explaining anything (because it feels like there’s 15 minutes of dialogue cut out) or that the writers hoped that viewers wouldn’t care because there would be a lot of explosions. Who knows, but yeah, the whole third act, especially the ending, makes no sense.

With all that said, I actually like this movie. It’s by no means any good (I pointed out a lot of negatives about this movie) but it does create some interestingly new dynamics for a superpower movie with a nice and complex world mythos surrounding it. Like I said before, I really liked the way the filmmakers showed the super powers here, and I really like how they limited the powers. Everything about this movie feels right, besides the last 30 minutes of it. That should be a big deterrent, but I feel the first 2 half’s are strong enough to make this an enjoyable watch. So I give this a matinee/dvd watch. It won’t blow your mind but it’s much better than the Heroes tv show, and I watch every episode of that junk.

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