:. Director: Paul McGuigan
:. Starring: Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans
:. Running Time: 1:51
:. Year: 2009
:. Country: USA

Trying so hard, desperately even, to be something resembling the Europop techno-thrillers put out by Olivier Assayas (Demonlover, Clean), or perhaps more something more akin to the less artistic but even more stylized Asian-influenced Hollywood action rushes of John Woo (The Killer, Windtalkers). Toss in the trendy mythology of superheroes and a visual keenness to be the new Blade Runner, and voila — you have Paul McGuigan's rather lacklusterly accomplished neo-thriller, quasi-superhero action flick Push.

With it's myriad of mixed media filmmaking tricks and tropes and its slicker-than-slick set design McGuigan's film does get out of the gate early. Once out though, the visual buzz wears off rather as quickly as it first came. We are left with nothing more than a barely capable Hollywood mish-mash of everything from X-Men to Jumpers to the aforementioned Blade Runner, with a little Total Recall thrown on top like the cliched cherry on the already mediocre sundae — and that's being more generous than it deserves.

As far as the story goes, it is enough to fluster even the most avid of comic book readers with its convoluted plot involving reckless unwilling heroes and oligarchic villains and there eternal battle for...um for...what exactly were they fighting for again? Chris Evans, who made a fiery splash as the Human Torch in the ultimately disappointing Fantastic Four movies plays a vagabond would be superhero with the ability to "move" people and things with a sort of quasi-telekinesis. He is being tracked down by the Division, an X-File-ish government agency that controls everything supernatural. They believe him to have something they are looking for because...well because it can do something. What it can do and why they want it changes on the occasional whim. Seriously, did they just make the story up as they went along!?

Anyway, Evans' reluctant superhero (he saw his own father killed by these same agents and wants nothing more than to be left alone) is dragged into this possibly cataclysmic power struggle by the insistence of a thirteen-year-old who can draw visions of the future in her pocket notebook. The thirteen-year-old juvenile delinquent with the penchant for prophetic doodling is played with the eerie adult aplomb that has become the trademark of late for Dakota Fanning. It is also Ms. Fanning who gives this film the only real entertainment it spews forth.

There is a perverse enjoyment in watching the once precocious Fanning get drunk, pack heat and swear like a sailor. On the verge of turning her wide-eyed moppet image into a burgeoning all-out teenage sex appeal, Fanning is both the highlight of this film and its saddest victim. Evans has a certain charm that goes a little way toward endearing his character to us but he is very limited in his acting style. He is basically playing a more introverted Johnny Storm here so there is no stretch. Even Djimon Hounsou is playing the suave tough guy he almost always plays, just a lower brow version of him here.Fanning is the one really slumming though.

Perhaps getting such a thrill out of her budding teenage ne'er-do-well does verge on the pedophiliac, just as was her talked-and-talked-and-talked about performance in the ultimately tame Hounddog. Her flowering seductiveness is just around the corner whether we want to face it or not. This seemingly ageless little girl is finally growing up and her role in Push is, I believe, just the beginning of what will surely be a most interesting career. Too bad her blossoming talent is wasted on such an otherwise standard wannabe action flick with mere flickers of fun.

With that thought, I suppose the film isn't a total wash (or should I say push?) with or without Fanning. The action sequences, especially one early on through the streets of an urban fish market, are fun to watch and the art direction is suitably moody for such a piece. The reflective neon wetness of the restaurants and fish markets and the husked-out appearance of an almost futuristic Hong Kong play out as obvious attempts at making the film appear as if it is Blade Runner (without the flying cars of course) but the look seems to work. Even inside such simplistically convoluted storytelling, as is McGuigan's movie. Now if only the director could learn to turn his occasional thrills and spills into a coherently interesting story. Then we'd have something to talk about.

  Kevyn Knox

     Movie Reviews: American Films
     Reviews 2012 - present
     Reviews 1998 - 2012

  .: AFI Fest
  .: Cannes Festival
  .: COL COA
  .: LA Film Festival
  .: LA Latino Festival
  .: more Festivals
  .: Cult Classic
  .: Foreign
  .: U.S. Underground
  .: Musical Films
  .: Controversial Films
  .: Silent Films
  .: Italian Westerns
  .: Erotica
  .: Download Movies
  .: Movie Rentals
  .: Movie Trailer
| About Plume Noire | Contacts | Advertising | Submit for review | Help Wanted! | Privacy Policy | Questions/Comments |
| Work in Hollywood | Plume Noire en français [in French] |