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With Jim Sabatini


Push

Push
Starring:
Dakota Fanning, Djimon Hounsou, Chris Evans, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis


Rated: PG-13 intense sequences of violence and action, brief strong language, smoking and a scene of teen drinking
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 6, 2009 Released by: Summit Entertainment

There's plenty of psychic energy in the ambitious Push which ultimate plays out like video game, cobbling together elements from TV's "Heroes", The Matrix, and X-Men. And, hardly the best of them.

Starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, and Djimon Hounsou, this comic-book cinematic translation has a lot of mind-bending and mind-reading about it, but rarely has the precision and coherence of something like Memento. It has the feel of a cautionary tale in the early going with the understanding that those instilled with special powers can be human weapons for those running the establishment.

Garish and slick, the most noteworthy players in a sizable cast are Fanning's multi-hued coiffed Cassie and Evans's likeable Nick, somewhat resembling his appealing turn in the less messy and relatively taut Cellular.

Cassie is a 13-year-old "watcher", someone who knows what's coming and can draw it on a pad. Her mother, now captive by the elite "Division" (a governmental agency who's create those "sniffs", "bleeders", "shifters" and "wipes" among others with a brand of telekinesis), had mentioned that with a little alcohol she could see more "clearly". So, Fanning has a chance to grow up on screen in a moment of inebriation, that leads to a rare instance of audience reaction.

The plucky Cassie has an agenda against the Division and needs the help of Nick, a "mover", who has found sanctuary in Hong Kong. A flashback from the beginning that is haunting Nick reminds him of his father (a watcher), whose prognostication makes sense with the appearance of tallish punky young teen. The rather impervious storyline centers around a "pusher" (one who has the ability of mind control, say to alter one's memory or even have one commit suicide), Belle's Kira, who has eluded the Division, has the key syringe-holding psychic steroid. Many, especially Asians, will sacrifice everything to fashion what they already know.

Director Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Sleven) tries to make the most out of a vibrant, bustling Hong Kong (the setting is really the only redeeming thing here). But, the increasing action scenes (the editing indicates that crew was highly caffeinated) turns out to be a bland mind-blower, just like Fanning's attempted "adult" turn. See, or rather, listen to her to greater effect in the sublimely creepy Coraline. She doesn't have a solid rapport with the affably game Evans whose Nick gets more than banged up a bit and invites some sexual tension with a rather vacuous Belle who gets to partake in some of the mayhem.

Some might like the scenes with those forceful Chinese agents, one a bleeder, another a gal watcher with some pop as she sucks a lollipop. The conflict with the Division and Hounsou's Henry Carver, not that menacing doesn't really add up even though some of the enforcing that he's involved in (floating guns) provides some amusement. Push just doesn't induce much staying power despite a talented supporting cast which includes Cliff Curtis (Sunshine), Ming Na (The Joy Luck Club), and Maggie Siff of TV's "Mad Men" who has a couple of mindful encounters with Nick.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Push  D      D      C+            D+ 

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