Sunday, February 8, 2009
When I saw the trailers for Push, I saw some similarities to my favorite televisions series Heroes. Being a fan of superhero films like X-Men, I figured that this was going to be a fun ride. Although some of aspects of this film presented new ideas, it was basically a rehashed formula movie that missed it's potential. It reminded me more of Jumper than any of the other films I mentioned. Well, maybe it wasn't quite as bad as Jumper.
Following World War II, several Nations began expanding on experimentation done by the Nazi's to develop people with pyschic abilities into military weapons. The National programs are designated as "Divisions." An aggressive program by Division in the United States involves an experimental drug that will enhance the abilities of these psychics. The only problem being that the drug has killed every one of the test subjects.
The drug succeeds in working on a test subject named Kira Hudson (Camilla Belle). Through a carefully orchestrated psychic plan, Kira manages to escape the Division test facility ending up in Hong Kong with her memories erased. She is being pursued by the architect of the enhancement tests, Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou). In Hong Kong, Kira meets another two second generation psychics whose parents were both renowned for their abilities. A young seer (known in Division terminology as a "watcher") called Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning) and her former boyfriend Nick Gant (Chris Evans) whose ability is called "Pushing." Pushers can move matter through telepathy as well as an odd ability to create force fields. Together, they must combat a Chinese crime syndicate made up of psychics as well as evading Division. A suitcase containing the enhancement drug was stolen by Kira during her escape. This suitcase becomes the focal point of the plot. Everyone wants that case.
There were a few plot holes in this film that bothered me a bit. First and foremost, why would Division only have a single syringe of this powerful drug that kills every test subject? If you suspend belief and assume that they just don't want the drug to fall into someone else's hands then the goal would be to destroy it rather than recover it. Something that was in their ability to do but wasn't done. If the drug did fall into enemy hands it would likely kill the test subject anyway. Another thing that bothered me was Carver's detailed knowledge of the side effects caused by the drug. If there had never been a test subject to survive administration of the drug, then how would one know what side effects it causes? There was also an excessive amount of gun play for a movie about psychic abilities. After guns fail, the psychic stuff kicks in. Why not just come out the gate with the psychic stuff? I know why...it would require some careful consideration of the various powers (rock, paper, scissors if you will). They would have to orchestrate carefully considered battle scenes employing a variety of powers and the interactions of various psychic abilities. This is undertaken from time to time, but not to the degree you would imagine from a movie about psychic abilities. Anyone who watches Heroes knows that the majority of the script deals with the interaction of various powers. That is because they put a great deal of thought into the script. Push seemed to take the easy way out. This film was intellectually lazy.
Push was written by David Bourla. I am not familiar with Bourla's screenplays. What I gathered from this film was that Bourla has a creative mind, but either rushed this project or simply didn't spend enough time developing the fight scenes. It might have been a good idea to employ another writer on the script to present ideas to play off of. The overall theme was formulaic, but several of the elements of the film were good. The psychic abilities were examined a bit. No all seers are created equal. Do you see the future or do you see someones intentions? These are ideas that I thought made the characters more interesting. The characters were very diverse with varying motives, backgrounds and abilities. I thought that this provided the foundation for an exceptional film. The dialogue wasn't all that bad, either. Some of it was predictable, but it was fresh enough to make it interesting. As a whole, the writing lacked. Especially when dealing with the interaction of various abilities.
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