Thursday, February 19, 2009


This movie was supposed to suck, but boy did I enjoy the hell out of it. I am, as my friends have told me, a notoriously picky reviewer. I consider films like Schindler's List and American Beauty to be facile and devoid of serious introspection. And yet I liked Push, which I can only describe as X-Men meets Twilight in Hong Kong. That sounds absolutely awful, but it works. This is a movie goes straight for your adrenal glands, not your head, and, while the pace never lets up, it's not a monotonous bore-fest like The Dark Knight.

The basic premise is covered during the title sequence: Nazis experimented on babies to create psychic powers, Americans carry on the research, creating a whole class of superhumans - "movers" (telekinetics), "sniffers" (folks that can read images from smells), etc. Now the psychics are escaping various government agencies that experiment on them to enhance their powers as Persons of Mass Destruction, experiments that have always killed them up until now. It all sounds very RPG (I can see the splatbooks already), so that's maybe why I liked it so much. Getting that exposition out of the way in the first three minutes also means that there is no time wasted dealing with mundane reactions to a preternatural world: the crazy psychic shit is considered matter-of-factly. That makes the film seem even more like an RPG on the big screen.

Everyone I've mentioned Push to says they thought it would be like the excrable Jumper, but what seperates those two are the characters and acting. Unlike the unlikeable douchebags in Jumper, all the good guys in Push are really good guys, acting not out of self-interest but because they don't want to see their friends get hurt. And whereas Hayden Christiansen can be out-acted by a block of cheese, Chris Evans can actually deliver a performance (also check him out in Sunshine if you can't get past the Johnny Storm thing). Dakota Fanning gives her typically weird "adult in child's body" thing, but it works for her character and she only stumbles when she tries to play drunk (somebody should've loaded the kid with booze and called it Method). The supporting characters are likewise strong, with only one real shit performance coming from the vapid Camilla Belle, but she spends so much time off-screen that it does no real harm.

The flick does stumble a tad in the last third, where it goes all Oceans' Eleven as the characters have to "con themselves" to avoid precognitive psychic knowing what they're going to do as they do it; but, I kept up with it and admired that they put some serious thought into how these powers work. It was a solid, fast-paced action flick, and while it's not going to win an Oscar or save Darfur, it was a damn good time.

No comments: