STARRING: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou, Joel Gretsch, Ming-Na Wen, Cliff Curtis, Nate Mooney, Corey Stoll, Scott Michael Campbell, Neil Jackson, Maggie Siff, Paul Car, Xiao Lu Li, Kwan Fung Chi, Jacky Heung and Haruhiko Yamanouchi
Two young Americans with special abilities must race to find a girl in Hong Kong before a shadowy government organization called Division does.
In Hong Kong, the “mover” Nick Gant is contacted by the “watcher” Cassie Holmes to seek out the “pusher” Kira Hollies. She has just escaped from the Division, a shadowy governmental agency that chases the youngsters with abilities. When the trio is reunited, they join to other persons with ability to fight against the “pusher” Henry Carver and his men.
Push is a 2009 superhero film written by David Bourla and directed by Paul McGuigan. In 1945 the Nazis were experimenting on people born with special abilities to create an ultra-powerful army. The experiments didn’t stop at the end of World War II however, as other countries set up their own branches to investigate and weaponise physic abilities. The US government set up one that would be known as The Division. Each psychic is categorised into groups based on the powers they have. There’s Movers (move objects with their minds), Pushers (control other peoples’ thoughts), Watchers (who see the future), Bleeders (whose high-pitched screams can burst blood vessels), Sniffs (track people and objects), Shifters (temporarily change what an object looks like to others), Wipers (erase memories), Shadows (cloak themselves and others around them from detection) and Stitchers (heal or unheal people). We follow a young Mover named Nick Grant, who years ago lost his father to The Division, hiding out in Hong Kong, who is visited by teenage Watcher named Cassie Holmes, who is looking for his help in finding a Pusher named Kira, whose escaped from The Division, after successfully adapting to a drug developed by The Division which boosts psychic abilities.
Push has a very interesting directing style from McGuigan, mainly due to the constant hustle’n’bustle of Hong Kong, leading to him having to shoot guerilla-style, one takes on the streets in some scenes shot via cameras hidden in vans and through small holes. I also liked how the action sequences are done practically, which is well executed in small spaces, such as Nick and Cassie trying to make a run for it from Bleeders in an open market, to Nick facing off against Division member Victor in a Mover-off. I also liked the cinematography from Peter Sova here (Which unfortunately due to how demanding filming production was and personal reasons, Push was the last film he worked on). In terms of the premise and setup mythology behind the film, I like the ideas behind it, though I can see how people make the similarities between this and the X-Men. Chris Evans is solid as the cynical, reluctant hero Nick, while Dakota Fanning does fine, though she has to deal with a lot of exposition to keep Nick in track of their mission with her abilities. Djimon Hounsou, as always, is a reliable and compelling as villain Agent Carver, Cliff Curtis is one of the better supporting performances as former Division Shifter Hook Waters.
While the film has a lot of interesting ideas, the film slows way down in the middle, as in we’re just running around in circles to make up time in order to get to the finale, which doesn’t help as the film has an under two hour runtime and it almost feels like there’s an extra twenty minutes added onto that. Once the film reaches the final act of our heroes banding together to come up with a plan for being a step ahead of the villains and, admittedly, I spent a lot of time trying to keep up with the plan and if it wasn’t a plot hole or not as certain characters seem to turn up without explanation. In terms of characters/performances, I must say I didn’t care for Camilla Belle’s Kira Hudson at all and that’s unfortunate as she’s integral to the plot. The sequel setup in the final moments are a bit of a bummer however as after this, Chris Evans would go on to play Steve Rogers and the rest is history.
While I like the mythology and premise behind Push, I can’t help but feel that it would’ve served much better as a television series rather than the near two hour film we have here. The performances and stunt work are the main highlights here, but the middle portion of the film is painfully slow and could switch some people off. 4/10