Paul McGuigan’s ‘Push’ (2009)

28Apr09

Even though some of the twists and turns don’t make much sense under scrutiny, Push moves at a fast enough pace and Paul McGuigan directs with enough style that its occasional plot holes didn’t interfere with my overall enjoyment. The script could definitely use some tweaking, but the material has a lot of potential that a sequel, which the ending leaves plenty of room for, could really deliver.

The world of Push revolves around people with special abilities that have catchy nicknames, such as watchers who see the future, movers who are telekinetic, and shifters who can change the appearance of objects. While most of the psychic abilities are the familiar stuff of science fiction, the pushers keep things interesting with their ability to “push” thoughts into other people’s minds and make them believe and do whatever they want, which calls into question whether the characters really experienced what they remember or if a pusher created false memories.

Push features a cast of fairly young actors, and its youngest cast member Dakota Fanning leaves the biggest impression. Fanning handles both the comedic and dramatic demands of her part with aplomb, demonstrating her growing maturity as an actor. Though Chris Evans is arguably the star of the film, his performance feels wooden at times, but he and Fanning have a very playful, natural chemistry that’s fun to watch. Djimon Hounsou offers an effective and refreshingly quiet portrayal of the ingenious Carver, and Cliff Curtis is charismatic and entertaining as Hook. This performance coupled with her portrayal of Dot in The Quiet convinces me that Camilla Belle is most effective when silent. I’m not sure what that says about her acting skills, but I don’t think it’s good.

While a diverse group of actors composes the cast, a larger number of people of color would be categorized as “villain” rather than “hero.” Hounsou, the only Black actor in the film, plays arguably the biggest bad and definitely the most threatening one. He also leads the Division’s team that is trying to recover Kira and the stolen syringe, and he seems to oversee the deadly experimental enhancement drugs. A Chinese family with psychic powers makes up the other group of villains, making the film a little unfriendly to people of color.

Unless Push sees phenomenal DVD sales, the possibility of a sequel seems doubtful at this point, which is a shame. I’m interested enough by this world that I can overlook storytelling flaws to anticipate where follow-up film could go. But even if a Push 2 never comes to be, I think screenwriter David Bourla’s creation could find a comfortable home in comics.

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