Movie News & Reviews

'Push' lacks imagination, sets up sequel

There may be no better example of the depth of human futility than theprofessional movie industry.

Yeah, OK, great stuff comes out every year, films that make youdazed in wonder at the glory of being alive, and depending on howblack your heart is, there's usually a couple-three things out worthseeing at any given time. Sweet. Life remains worth living. But we'renot talking easy jobs like pouring drinks into cups or blathering onabout our opinions for 600-700 words, we're talking about Hollywoodjobs, some of the most highly-paid and sought-after positions in theworld.

Yet with all their talent, energy, and money drawn from the collectivepool of billions of people, odds are their end product is going toinvite more mockery than joy. Then logically, nothing is worth doing,QED. Way I see it, we have two reasonable responses to these workingconditions, and unless we can all agree to retire to seven billionseparate 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 hasmade psychic powers a reality. For years, the U.S. Division has beenworking on a serum to turn its psychics into superweapons, but thefirst time it works, subject Camilla Bell grabs it and goes on therun.

Division's people lead them to Chris Evan, who's been living off theradar since they killed his dad 10 years ago. No sooner do they leavethan Dakota Fanning shows up, a precocious young seer who tricks Evansinto helping her find the missing girl.

For Fanning's got motives of her own -- Division's holding her mom, andshe thinks Bell is the key to bringing them down. But a prize thatsweet draws plenty of attention, and they quickly find themselves in athree-way hunt for her with Division and a gang of local psychics.

From its title on down, Push is pretty darn generic. Why arethere psychics? Nazis did it, according to the friendly openingnarrator. What can they do? Oh, the usual psychic whatnot -- throwthings around, see the future, use Jedi mind tricks, etc. And thatserum they're all after, its big deal is it apparently makes them evenbetter 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 (Iknow what that's like), and what does he do with that? Fails to cheatat dice, that's what.

Bold and striking subject matter, that's true, but if you spent fiveminutes thinking about what you'd do with telekinetic power, you wouldcome up with no fewer than eight hundred more exciting things to dowith it than gamble, from making passing pedestrians punch each otherin the face to training to mentally separate hooks and undo zipperssuch that every party you attend becomes a Naked Party.

But nah, none of that here. This lack of imagination isn't limited toDavid Bourla's script. Again, these characters have psychictalent -- mind bullets, people -- but director Paul McGuigan's actionscenes are as uninspired as cutting room rejects from a movie thatwatched The Matrix back in college but was stoned at the timeand mostly just remembers how awesome Carrie Anne-Moss'lady-musculature was.

On the bright side, the plot generally makes sense, which is never agiven in fantastical movies like this. (Just don't spend any timethinking about how these people have been kept secret so long, or howeven the world's most gifted seer could predict how to throw a marbleso it ends up in the exact right place after several hundred feet ofhallway.) 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 atany step of the way. Otherwise, there's nothing especially bad aboutit, other than an abrupt ending I can only assume is meant to be thelaunching point for an unwanted sequel.

If so, I have to hope they actually spend the time to make the next one worth seeing.

Grade: C