PUSH: On general release from Friday 20th February 2009
With the popularity of Heroes and the film realisations of some of Marvel comics’ greatest creations coming to the big screen (X-Men, Iron Man, Hulk); interest in the paranormal, of humans with “abilities” is at an all time high. And so we come to Push, a sci-fi thriller which ticks all the usual supernatural boxes but offers nothing new to say about any of them.
In the opening narration we’re told that there exist people born with special powers that they don’t necessarily want. Watchers can see the future, Movers can use their powers to move objects, Sniffers can track where you’ve been by smelling an object you once used (ahem), and Pushers can infiltrate your mind, create false memories and make you do things you don’t want to do.
Nick is a Mover, hiding out in Hong Kong from the Division, a shady government organisation bent on capturing and militarising their abilities led by Henry Carver (Hounsou), a powerful Pusher. He’s visited by a little girl called Cassie, (Fanning), a Watcher, who tells him that he needs to find a woman. The woman is Kira (Belle), another powerful Pusher who has escaped from Division’s clutches and will lead them to a suitcase of money.
It’s almost admirable that a studio took it upon themselves to create a franchise out of nothing: most superhero movies these days are based on existing works (usually for very good reasons such as fan bases), and without the certainty of a hit movie, they’re taking a financial risk. However, this kind of story has been around for over 40 years in one medium or another, so unless you’re actually planning to say something new with the material, then what’s the point in making it?
We’re offered very two-dimensional characters and though actors do a reasonable job (particularly Fanning as a world-weary 13 year old), you don’t find anything out about their motivations or their backgrounds. The Division is reduced to a generically bad government institution and the suitcase they’re trying to find becomes an obvious MacGuffin, solely there to drive the plot forward.
What’s most appealing about films of this genre isn’t actually the powers that the characters have, it’s the humanity behind those powers and how they fit into the world. Push only offers us the briefest of glimpses into the characters’ motivations.
Add to this some questionable plot holes, (why would you put handcuffs on a guy who can shatter them instantly with his mind?), and you’ve got a movie with more loose ends than a frayed carpet.
Despite the twists and turns the plot is basically quite thin; however Director Paul McGuigan manages to make the fight scenes enjoyable and exciting despite what must have been a tight budget but the end result is something that has been done before, and done better.