Who needs Superman when there are movers, pushers, watchers, bleeders, sniffs, shifters, wipers, shadows and stitches? Sorry, Brandon Routh, I’d leave my life in Chris Evans’ hands over yours any day. While it’s fun to dress up as your favorite superhero on Halloween, there’s something more exhilarating about believing an average person can have supernatural abilities. Push is just a movie but after getting through this disc, you may find yourself believing anything is possible.
Meet Cassie Holmes, a watcher with the ability to see the future and the coolest character Dakota Fanning has ever played. Not many girls her age would share her love of color-streaked hair, but trading in her sundresses for a rebellious attitude makes her a winner and a relatable character. Cassie is the narrator of the film’s brief and very necessary introduction to Nick Gant (Chris Evans) and Division. Governments have been experimenting on people with abilities since World War II and over time have evolved into ‘Divisions.’ When we first meet Nick, he’s only a young boy and on the run from the American Division with his father. They’re both movers, which, as the narration describes it oh so delicately, is just an easier way to say telekinetic. His father forces Nick to hide just before the agent Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou) arrives and kills him.
Ten years later, we find the final piece of the introductory puzzle, Kira (Camilla Belle), a Pusher with the ability to put thoughts into people’s minds. Kira is undergoing experimentation at a Division testing site and is given a drug said to enhance psychic abilities. The only problem is that the substance kills everyone it’s given to; everyone except Kira. After the drug is administered, Kira breaks out of the facility, setting into motion a story of hunting and being hunted.
When Cassie’s watching abilities reveal some morbid news, she goes to meet Nick believing he can do something to change their fates. Like Nick, Cassie isn’t very talented when it comes to using her psychic powers. Who would believe a girl who draws stick figures with neon colored markers? After a number of deadly encounters with a group of bleeders and a stitch in painfully high stilettos with a hidden agenda, the two begin to grow on one another and accept that in order to survive, they’ll need to work together. The relationship between Evans and Fanning is one of the film’s highlights. Both are great actors and create a seamless brother-sister-type relationship that’s rather endearing. It’s too bad the only way they can save themselves is by finding Kira.
Push’s lulls come whenever Belle is onscreen. There’s just so far having a pretty face can take your career. After watching When A Stranger Calls, 10,000 BC and now Push, I’m certain she has the emotional range of a piece of lint. Luckily her performance, or lack thereof, is overshadowed by the sensational cinematography. The Hong Kong backdrop is visually stimulating and nearly every scene has a snapshot aesthetic. Even amidst intense action sequences you’ll find yourself aching to press pause to get a longer glimpse at particular frames.
That pause button will also come in handy about half way through the film when the plot gets increasingly convoluted. A second or third watching will be required if you hope to sort out who has their memories erased and who’s double crossing who. Even if you’re able to put the whole thing together, a number of issues go unresolved and are ultimately ignored. McGuigan does a great job making sure the main characters’ stories come full circle, but doesn’t do the same for the secondary ones.
Another piece of the puzzle dissolved in the urgent necessity to bring the film to an end is the fate of Division. At the beginning finding the case is tied to the demise of the institution, but that concept is never revisited. The only reason I can come up with to justify such a massive hole in the film is that it would make a sequel possible. Just over $30 million at the box office is not nearly enough to earn a second film.
One less component is the key to making Push a hit. Except for the fact that it is awesome seeing bleeders pop fish like tomatoes and explode their tanks sending water gushing through the market, is it really necessary to have Popgirl’s family in the film at all? Without them McGuigan could have spent more time focusing on division and the psychics Nick recruits to help him find the case.
Push is just for fun. The script has no deep meaning and the film does just what it was intended to do: take an audience on a fantastical journey with loads of action.
It’s a shame this film is lacking in special features. When you have a movie with such a detailed storyline and characters with enthralling back-stories that extra space on the DVD should spoil fans with the information that couldn’t be fit into the film.
The audio commentary is basically director Paul McGuigan interviewing Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning about their experiences making the film with the movie playing in the background. Much of the initial material focuses on pre-production elements like when they first read the script and adjusting to life in Hong Kong. After watching the movie you’ll enjoy hearing about all of the inside jokes that came up during production as well as some filming secrets. Look out for a bit about shooting the cup scene towards the beginning of the commentary. The group also takes time to explain what each type of psychic has the ability to do. I appreciate the extra information on these extraordinary characters, but it was really deserving of its own featurette.
The four deleted scenes are unnecessary. If you’re going watch them at least switch on McGuigan’s commentary to make it worth your time. Lastly there’s the featurette “The Science Behind the Fiction.” The piece tries to hint at an element of truth behind the film tracing abilities back to hunters and gatherers with a sixth sense to find food and water. Thankfully those involved in this project recognize the theory they suggest is being stretched to apply to real life, otherwise this featurette would become laughable.