Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

An independent X-Men-style romp set in Hong Kong with the always-reliable Chris Evans in the lead sounds great, right? Well, unfortunately, director Paul McGuigan’s humans-with-powers tale simply doesn’t live up to the promise shown in the rather tantalising trailer.

There are good points sure; we get a beautifully-shot city, a relentlessly-pounding soundtrack and a premise that should be applauded for its originality (for once, this is a superhero yarn not pinched from any existing comic or graphic novel), but you can’t escape the feeling that that Push is a missed opportunity. The pace? Fairly uneven. The characterisation? Severly lacking. As for the story, it does present a few nice turns, but even the briefest examination makes it obvious that the plot has more holes than the aquarium tanks at the fish market.

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As a product of Nazi experiments, there are lots of humans out there with abnormal abilities. Living off the grid, Nick (Evans) is a ‘mover’ who can telekinetically move things and his life is turned upside down when he meets Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a ‘watcher’ who can predict the future. After joining forces, the pair find themselves on the run from a clandestine agency, operated by the sinister Carver (Djimon Hounsou) who, like the missing lab rat Kira (Camilla Belle), is a ‘pusher’ who can put thoughts in other people’s minds.

More in love with the possibilities of this universe than concerned with the internal logic and fun that should come with it, David Bourla’s script doesn’t offer any neat twists we haven’t seen before in the genre. Of course, McGuigan had to pull this all together with a shoestring budget, but short of a quick game of dice and the nookie-induced closing of a bathroom door, we don’t get to see our protagonist using his abilities in cool everyday ways.

Much like the movie itself, the cast lacks intensity. The usually-impressive Hounsou pulls off his dapper-dressing villain but feels like a cameo at times, up-and-comer Neil Jackson doesn’t get to do much more than wave his hands around while looking menacing in a suit and Belle is – ironically - somewhat forgettable. Fanning tries her best to inject some humour (as well as soy sauce) in a more adult role than we’re used to from her, but counterpart Evans isn’t as entertaining as we’ve come to expect. After lighting up the screen (literally) as Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four and shining brightly (again, literally) in Sunshine, Evans’ likeably cynical charm is somewhat lacking. Hell, we don’t even get the obligatory torso shot.

Sadly, as it’s more like an overlong above-average episode of the hugely overrated TV show Heroes than the exciting franchise-starter it should have been, the best praise you can heap on Push is that it’s nearly good. Though likely to disappoint anyone who looks beneath the surface, you don’t have to be a watcher to see that a sequel has been set up.

Reviewed on: 02 Mar 2009
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Push packshot
Young telekinetics and clairvoyants band together to try to escape a sinister government agency.
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Val Kermode **

Director: Paul McGuigan

Writer: David Bourla

Starring: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Djimon Hounsou, Camilla Belle, Neil Jackson, Kai Cheung Leung

Year: 2009

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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