X-Men Meets Heroes


In Push, a fast-paced superhero romp, we learn, in spite of hardships, you have to move forward with your life, even in the face of death, and you have to learn that in a eye-popping cinematic style not often experienced, which is not always a good thing. The problem though is how they handle the theme delivery. This flick could have been a refreshing take on the action/sci-fi genre, but it turns out to be all style, no substance. This film’s concept works, but its the final product just does not.

Push, with the premise of David Bourla’s uninspired script, is centered around three young telekinetic/clairvoyantly gifted individuals trying to maintain their freedom and the freedom of those like them. A government agency called The Division has been engaged in cruel experiments to harness the paranormal abilities of people for military use, which sounds a lot like a combination of X-Men Meet NBC’s Heroes combo. The conflict that drives Push‘s story is coincidentally similar to the Heroes’ battle with The Company. The film begins with a prophecy about a girl with a flower and a father’s last words to his son, “You help her, you help us all,” immediately echoing “Save the cheerleader; save the world.” from the series. Although many elements about Push, its premise, and its unfolding plot are quite familiar, its energetic story about power, destiny, and the ability to affect both what is before us and what is ahead of is still a much less fun and predictable ride.

The heroes’ super strengths rest in their minds rather than their muscles. With a host of super-humans ranging from those able to kill people with their screams (Bleeders) to those able to heal people on the verge of death (Stitches), much of the fun of Push is encountering each new power as it enters into the story. There’s Nick (Chris Evans) and his telekinetic abilities of the second generation—at first fairly unimpressive due to lack of use, but later the fuel for some crazy fight scenes between him and a fellow Mover. Soon to join him is Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a Watcher who sees the future and shows up in Nick’s life, as predicted, with a flower in her hand. Next to come along is Kira (Camilla Bell) a Pusher who can enter people’s minds and alter the truth as they know it. And there to both help and hinder them as they try to evade both a rival gang of super humans and The Division agents hot on their trail are several Sniffers who use their superhuman sense of smell to try to track down Kira and an object she stole from The Division, a couple of Shadows who can mask people or things from any Sniffer on their trail, and a Shifter who can temporarily change one object into any other object he wants. The ultimate goal of all characters is to employ those unique talents to save the world from imminent disaster. Push suggests that the art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemies are. Get at them as soon as you can. Strike them as hard as you can, and keep moving on.

There seems to be a little tangible story revolving around Nick and how he turned his back on the world, and Cassie is the character that gets him out of it and it becomes a real human relationship. Both Nick and Cassie are orphaned as young children. Why is there no explanation given for how they survived on their own? Where does Cassie get her money? After discovering his unique talent, why does Nick neglect the opportunity to develop it? Oftentimes disconnected and incongruous, the ending will leave you scratching your head, unsure of what had just happened.

Given its few bright spots and plot flaws, the rainy Hong Kong setting is probably the only best asset in terms of visual. Unfulfilling on several levels, the comparably plotted Push is contradictory in every way: a ruthlessly boring film that doesn’t make one bit of sense, is captured with cringing cinematography more at home on a skateboard accident compilation tape, and peppered with confused performances. Peter Sova’s anomalistic cinematography is so convulsive and apprehensive that the result looks as though it were shot by an epileptic during a seizure, and the morbid effect is exasperated by Nicolas Trembasiewicz’s excessive editing, which make the effects as sub-par, impetuous and blotchy. A fitting sense of confusion is drawn from all of the dark settings, and the action is feeble as the story is both derivative and tiresome. The film passes through the whole course of the story by less strength in plot and one chase sequence after another. The action scenes may be hyper-charged and hypnotic, and the chase sequences. In terms of an entertaining flick, it’s not effective enough. It could have added more substance with the narrative and the world these characters inhabit.

Decent acting is expected for paranormals characters though these characters are too unsavory. Responsible for memorable martial arts sequences aggrandized by his psychical abilities, Honsou is a convincingly diabolical bad guy and not too menacing. But we all know he is capable of a far better performance. Fanning, Evans, and Belle provide no acting talent here. After ceaselessly watching these battling superheroes pit their powers against one another, while average people become expendable tokens in the psychic warfare, the entertainment value gets on the wane too quickly. Given their extraordinary talents, it’s remarkable puzzling these superheroes are so absorbed in their own quest for power that they forget to use their abilities for the good of others.

Push is certainly not a blast to watch. It’s just another dreary action adventure tale about people with special powers. Unfortunately the film itself is all too typical. It’s not that it’s meaningless to create yet another superhero franchise. In fact, it should be refreshing to see an attempt at an original superhero screenplay not based on a preexisting comic book. Does it not falter not in trying to add its voice to the genre, but it also falters in not having anything compelling to say.

Rating: 3/5

To see Push in theatres, check your local listings, or visit the http://www.push-themovie.com/

Criticetc is a journalism/film/book critic in Bangkok and Pattaya, and at http://www.pattayacitylive.com      and http://www.cinemainreview.com

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