There may be no better example of the depth of human futility than the professional movie industry.
Yeah, OK, great stuff comes out every year, films that make you dazed in wonder at the glory of being alive, and depending on how black your heart is, there's usually a couple-three things out worth seeing at any given time. Sweet. Life remains worth living. But we're not talking easy jobs like pouring drinks into cups or blathering on about our opinions for 600-700 words, we're talking about Hollywood jobs, some of the most highly-paid and sought-after positions in the world.
Yet with all their talent, energy, and money drawn from the collective pool of billions of people, odds are their end product is going to invite more mockery than joy. Then logically, nothing is worth doing, QED. Way I see it, we have two reasonable responses to these working conditions, and unless we can all agree to retire to seven billion separate monasteries to compose haikus about weather and butterflies, it looks like it's about time the entire human species went on strike.
In the deeply mediocre Push, government experimentation has made psychic powers a reality. For years, the U.S. Division has been working on a serum to turn its psychics into superweapons, but the first time it works, subject Camilla Bell grabs it and goes on the run.
Division's people lead them to Chris Evan, who's been living off the radar since they killed his dad 10 years ago. No sooner do they leave than Dakota Fanning shows up, a precocious young seer who tricks Evans into helping her find the missing girl.
For Fanning's got motives of her own -- Division's holding her mom, and she thinks Bell is the key to bringing them down. But a prize that sweet draws plenty of attention, and they quickly find themselves in a three-way hunt for her with Division and a gang of local psychics.
From its title on down, Push is pretty darn generic. Why are there psychics? Nazis did it, according to the friendly opening narrator. What can they do? Oh, the usual psychic whatnot -- throw things around, see the future, use Jedi mind tricks, etc. And that serum they're all after, its big deal is it apparently makes them even better at their particular generic power.
Thing is, with psychic abilities, the world should be your playground. Evans is super pretty and can manipulate the very fabric of reality (I know what that's like), and what does he do with that? Fails to cheat at dice, that's what.
Bold and striking subject matter, that's true, but if you spent five minutes thinking about what you'd do with telekinetic power, you would come up with no fewer than eight hundred more exciting things to do with it than gamble, from making passing pedestrians punch each other in the face to training to mentally separate hooks and undo zippers such that every party you attend becomes a Naked Party.
But nah, none of that here. This lack of imagination isn't limited to David Bourla's script. Again, these characters have psychic talent -- mind bullets, people -- but director Paul McGuigan's action scenes are as uninspired as cutting room rejects from a movie that watched The Matrix back in college but was stoned at the time and mostly just remembers how awesome Carrie Anne-Moss' lady-musculature was.
On the bright side, the plot generally makes sense, which is never a given in fantastical movies like this. (Just don't spend any time thinking about how these people have been kept secret so long, or how even the world's most gifted seer could predict how to throw a marble so it ends up in the exact right place after several hundred feet of hallway.) It establishes the rules of its world and sticks to them. And Fanning has got a few funny moments.
But Push has the feel of a movie nobody gave much thought to at any step of the way. Otherwise, there's nothing especially bad about it, other than an abrupt ending I can only assume is meant to be the launching point for an unwanted sequel.
If so, I have to hope they actually spend the time to make the next one worth seeing.