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"Push"

Directed by Paul McGuigan.
Written by David Bourla.
Starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle and Djimon Hounsou.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  2/11/09

Folks--

"Push" is a great set-up, a great tease in fact, on what it could be with some more action and a little less Dakota Fanning.  In the hands of good sequel-makers, "Push 2" could be a cult classic.

But, as it is, "Push" has a sci-fi/action thing going for it thanks to a little taste of "Heroes", "The X-Files", "The Matrix", "Alias", and a kind of cool, assumed backstory of freaks with powers that hang out in Hong Kong.  In the present day, a shady government organization called Division (it would have been ridiculous to use also-rans like The Agency, The Covenant, The Others or something else shady-government-y) is slowly eliminating people who have powers, be it "watchers" (those that can see the future), "shadows" (those that protect individuals from watchers by standing within 20 feet of them), "movers" (those that can use telekinesis on anything movable), "bleeders" (crazy-eyed Asian guys that can shout so loud that they make anyone in their radius bleed from their ears), and "pushers", people who can use their mind to cloud your mind with memories you never had previously.  Everyone appears to have just one power, so they move in packs with others who have supporting skills.

All of that is required knowledge to understand why Nick (Chris Evans), a mover who has yet to hone his true skill, needs a watcher named Cassie (Dakota Fanning), to evade the head of Division, a pusher named Carver (Djimon Hounsou) and a band of bleeders, "shifters", "sniffers" and many others.  Nick and Cassie are on a mission to find Nick's former girlfriend, a pusher named Kira (Camilla Belle) and a case containing the key to the good side's survival.

I won't lie--the set-up is cool.  Director Paul McGuigan takes his time to show us everyone's skill, but in not developing most of the characters, it's hard to read their motivation as to why they follow Carver's direction to take down the good guys.  Even when we are told why Kira is so important, it falls flat.  The lively one-note/one-skill characters look really cool, though, so that works; the movie's camerawork is on speed, but it narrowly avoids "Cloverfield"-style blackout moments by mostly keeping the action centered as chaos ensues during key sequences.  The action pacing is strong but the total number of scenes is a bit low; as special powers go, the action also has a bit of a problem because both Carver's bodyguard and Nick have the ability to stop bullets with their telekinesis powers...but, they both like to shoot at each other.  Uhh, boring.  Kind of like watching the pros shoot at each other in "Wanted", it didn't make sense to me that people who cannot kill their rivals with guns are constantly using guns to try and kill said individuals.

???

If you can get past things like this, "Push" is not bad.  Like I said earlier, I think this world could be interesting in the hands of someone else, featuring even more one-note powers.  As it is, serviceable, and if we could just get Fanning something to eat, I would feel a LOT better.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 02/11/09