Friday, May 27, 2011


Imagine a world where people have powers that could completely change the world, and you’d never be sure.  People could manipulate objects to change what they look like, or change people’s memories just by making eye contact.  The very idea of this would make a perfect paranoia thriller.  Sadly, that concept is completely passed over in Push, a mediocre superhero movie minus any action, character development, or fun.
            The plot first begins by explaining that there are people with special powers in an opening narration that’s boring and ultimately pointless.  The focus is on Nick (Chris Evans, the soon-to-be Captain America), a man with telekinetic powers.  After the death of his father 10 years ago by a government organization called The Division, headed by Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou), he moves out to Hong Kong.  The Division is trying to develop a serum that will enhance these people’s powers, but it keeps killing people.  The first success is Kira (Camilla Belle), a “pusher” who can manipulate people’s memories and thoughts, but she’s escaped the facility to Hong Kong.  There’s also Cassie (Dakota Fanning) a future seer who’s somehow ended up in Hong Kong because…that’s how the plot works.  She manages to get Nick to go after the serum or something.
            And at this point the plot completely falls apart.  The movie is spent with Nick’s gang, the Division, and a Chinese family which has no relation to any of them also trying to get the serum.  It’s never completely sure why anybody wants the serum, considering that it kills people, and the success with Kira doesn’t seem to have made her any more powerful than anybody else.  Nobody’s trying to run away from the Division, and the Division isn’t trying to do anything but find the serum, but nobody knows where the serum is anyways so…why are these characters doing anything with each other?  It’s confusing, meaningless, and pointless.
            The characters are poorly developed.  I didn’t really feel any emotion for any of them.  Nick just exists.  He’s also been given a very weak power.  They’ve given the main character telekinesis in a world where it’s obvious there are far more interesting powers.  One side character has the ability to manipulate objects, like turning a blank sheet of paper with 500 written on it into a 500 yuan bill.  It’s not completely said whether he does it by manipulating the mind or the object itself, but it doesn’t matter because it’s cool.  I would’ve loved a movie about him.  But no, we get telekinesis.  And he’s not even a good telekinesis user.  His abilities start out weak, and get better near the end because…the plot calls for it.  Henry Carver is also just a weak villain.  He’s not a sympathetic villain, he’s not a complete monster, he’s not even an “ends justify the means” kind of guy.  He just does things.  There’s some talk that he wants to make an army of super-powered people with the serum, but it’s not followed up on enough so that I care for him.  And the Chinese family…I don’t even know why they’re in the movie.
            For all of this, it could’ve been saved with some good, cool action scenes.  There’s three.  And it’s not three as in “Well, there’s just three, but they’re a BIG three!”  They’re weak.  The silliest has to be when Nick starts using his powers to levitate guns.  It’s a terrible effect, apparently done with practical effects instead of digital, not that it would’ve made floating guns look any better.  At one point, a rival telekinetic carries a gun by having it float in front of him.  There’s no reason for him to not just carry it normally, so it just looks ridiculous.
            There’s so many ways this movie could’ve been saved.  It could’ve had interesting characters, instead of flat, forgettable ones.  It could’ve had some high-octane action scenes, instead of weak ones that are too little too late.  It could’ve been fun.  Instead it’s dull and joyless.  At the end, they seem to be setting things up for a sequel.  That is just hopelessly optimistic.

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