Push is the very definition of derivative filmmaking. But I just don’t care. It was entertaining. I would even consider this an improvement on director Paul McGuigan’s previous projects Wicker Park and Lucky Number Slevin. The frenetic, almost Tony Scott-like camera work, and befuddling script work against it, but this is still a quality, mindless movie.
As with lots of movies, all the troubles start with the Nazis during World War II. The discovery of citizens empowered by psychic talents causes the Nazis to use these special people as lab rats–means to a end that results in an unstoppable super-army. Well, we know what happened to the Nazis, but what you didn’t know, is the US government secretly continues these experiments today through an organization called ‘Division.’ Division is led by Pusher Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou), who’s following another escaped Pusher Kira (Camilla Belle), who has a mysterious case that could bring down Division all together. All the other Watchers in Hong Kong (where the film takes place) know about the mysterious case, because, well, they’re Watchers. Mover Nick (Chris Evans) and Watcher Cassie (Dakota Fanning) team up with some Sniffers, Shifters and Shadows to try once and for all to win civil rights for their kind, and end the hiding, running, and fear.
So, if that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry, it’s not going to be much clearer in the theater. But you won’t care, I promise. McGuigan’s camerawork is terrific, playing on the plethora of lights and colors in Hong Kong, to create a mesmerizing experience. It’s not clear what genre this falls in, as the script by David Bourla plays out sometimes like a con film, sometimes like sci-fi, sometimes like a spaghetti western (why Hong Kong McGuigan?). The acting is a little unsatisfactory on most counts, except for a pleasing performance by Fanning who seemed extra pleased she finally had a role where she doesn’t get raped and could say ‘shit.’ Evans is bland as the pseudo-superhero that the story is based around, and there are some extremely short and baffling appearances by actors like Cliff Curtis and Ming-Na, as characters with absolutely no development behind them. Okay. Push isn’t going to win any awards. But this is quality escapism that’s rare to find in theaters during the month of February.