Set in Hong Kong, Push is a story that centers around Nick (Chris Evans), a person with telekinetic powers on the run from a shadowy organization referred to as Division. In a brief prologue, we learn that during WWII, the Nazi’s were trying to find ways to enhance people with psychic abilities so that they could be used in the war. After the war was over, different governments discovered the research and continued it, each with their own “Division”. Nick is found early on by people from Division that are looking for someone else (Kira). Their precognitives have seen her associating with him in the future, and are trying to get to her through him. This future association also draws the interests of a souped up (super-ed up?) Hong Kong gang that appear to be included as a tribute to Akira, and a young but somewhat mercenary girl, Cassie (Dakota Fanning) who wants to team up with him because of a vision she had of the two of them with six million dollars.
While “person with powers on the run from shadow organization” has become it’s own genre (Firestarter, Scanners, Jumper, Heroes) they do a good job of creating a world that has a bit more dimension. There are several kinds of powers, each clearly defined which keeps it from becoming too much of a hodge podge. The powers are telekinesis (movers), mind control / manipulation (pushers), precognition (watchers), screaming ... no, no, really loud ... like Akira (bleeders), psychometry (sniffs), transmute (shifters), memory eraser (wiper), anti-detection (shadows), and healing (stitches). Visually most of the powers are fairly subtle, but even with things like telekinesis, they find ways to use powers in a way that’s clever, as opposed to simple brute force.
The performers all gave pretty solid performances. Chris Evans (Fantastic Four, Sunshine) and Camilla Belle (10,000 BC) make suitable young, rebel, heartthrobs Nick and Kira. Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam, War of the Worlds) plays Cassie and appears to be using this as her stepping stone to potential hot teen actress (think Natalie Portman in The Professional), which is a little disturbing at times. Djimon Hounsou (Amistad, Constantine) is Carver, the creepy, controlling Division pusher tracking them down.
Overall, this is good, solid thriller with some cool action scenes. It jumps into the action quickly, without excessive exposition. I can’t think of any glaring plot holes, but there are some places where it’s a little thin. People (particularly some of the “bad guys”) do things in ways that make you question their intelligence. As long as you don’t look too closely and accept that people with powers tend to be a little arrogant, you’ll probably be okay. There is at least one element in the story that seems like it’s going to be important, but is thrown aside by the end. It’s a necessary plot point for the end of the movie, but it feels like a loose end.
Its lack of exposition, while an asset in grabbing your attention and pulling you in initially, also cuts into the character development. People feel more like sketches than fully developed people. On some level you have to accept that the protagonists are the good guys because they’re the pretty rebels up against “the man”, and they don’t act as creepy as the organizations they contend with. All in all though, this is still a solid movie, a lot fun, and well worth seeing.
Review Scorecard Awesome: cool powers, pretty people, good action Bleh: a couple plot points were thin, character development could have been better Final Price Verdict: A good value at a matinee price.