Thursday, March 18, 2010


(Not based on a novel by Sapphire)

When Push first came out, I categorized it to myself as a guilty pleasure. Sure, the movie was fun, but at the time I thought of it as the sort of movie studios make when they realize something is "big" or "in" at the time. Around it's release, The X-Men and Spider-Man franchises had already hit their apexes, and the show Heroes still felt like it was one season away from re-capturing the charm of the first season. In other words "ordinary people dealing with superhuman abilities" was "in" and Push was a bit of a Johnny-come-lately.

The film centers around a group of ex-pat Americans (played by Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning) in Hong Kong with telekinetic abilities who are trying to lay low from a government agency called Division that wants to harness their powers. Take away the Hong Kong part and the plot sounds suspiciously like the first season of Heroes. In fact both stories heavily rely on characters with the ability to draw future events to move the story along, but while Heores's future predictions were drawn by acclaimed artist Tim Sale, Push's predictions were admittedly bad sketches done by Dakota Fanning's character. Probably because of this similarity, I brushed it off in my mind.

Then about a year after it's release, I watched Push again and realized that I actually liked it on it's own terms (and that Heroes had gotten embarrassingly bad). For one thing, I realized it wasn't an attempt at doing a superhero movie without a comic book franchise to back it up. Instead, it's more like an espionage movie with superpowers. The characters aren't constantly blasting each other with fireballs and what not, instead everybody is trying to outwit everybody else. The fight scenes that do ensue are reasonably good, in particular the ones involving a silent blonde guy that repels bullets with his mind, but the focus is more on the characters than the action.

Now, I will admit that this movie has some serious flaws in its execution, but if you accept them ahead of time, you can still enjoy the movie. For one thing, the movie starts off with Dakota Fanning explaining the mythology of the movie; what kinds of powers people have, what they're called and so on. It's an unnecessary info dump one that a better director would have let the audience figure out on its own.

The plot also becomes a bit too complicated towards the end on account of some characters' abilities to see into the future, and other characters' abilities to use mind control. The characters all come up with elaborate methods of side stepping each others' powers that make it easy to lose track of what's going on. But hey, even The Dark Knight got damn hard to follow halfway through, (can anybody honestly explain the Melvin White part?) so I say cut the little guy some slack.

Lastly, it's obvious that the producers had every intention of making this into a franchise. The ending is a bit abrupt and left open for the clear purpose of it leading into a sequel. I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to this actually, but a tighter ending would have been nice. On the plus side, rumors have been circulating that this film has become enough of a sleeper hit on DVD that the story might get continued as a TV series.

Overall, Push isn't some sci-fi epic that everybody should have seen but didn't. Rather, it's more like the film Equilibrium, in that it's a fun action flick that could have been done better but it's entertaining enough as is. You catch it if it's on cable, or put it in your Netflix queue and pop it in on a weekday night when you feel like an action movie you haven't seen before. Not something you necessarily go out of your way to see, but you'll enjoy it when you get around to watching it.

And it's got Djimon Honsou in it. Yeah, he's been in the occasional bad movie, but have you ever seen him play a role badly?

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