Sunday, February 15, 2009

PUSH

The poster for Push is misleading. We see Chris Evans on an empty downtown street using his telekinetic powers to "push" a person, a sports car, a machine gun, and a fourth indistinct object up and out of his personal comfort zone. Agreed, after typing that out, the image doesn't sound so enticing in itself, but for someone who's decided to go and see the movie anyway, you'd at least expect to see the maximum amount of flying objects smashing & crashing for whatever silly reason the filmmakers saw fit.

Instead, writer David Bourla (director of those "____thumb" movies that people thought were funny... is that how you get a Hollywood gig these days!?!?) envisioned an action film with a sequence where a guy walks into a shootout with guns hovering by his side instead of gripped in his hands. I guess Bourla, and director Paul McGuigan, thought this would look "badass", or something... but it really doesn't. If you're getting flashbacks of last year's Rachel Bilson vehicle Jumper right now, you're not far off.

And in fact, Evans' character, Nick, isn't a "pusher" at all, he's a "mover". Reluctantly, Nick belongs to a paranormal Hong Kong underground of de facto rebels aiming to take down a black-op based U.S. government agency that wants to bottle their powers for military usage. (In the title sequence, we're told that the Nazis started this attempt at eugenics-style power grabbing back during WWII). Along with the "pushers" and "movers", there are also "sniffers", "watchers", "bleeders", "stitchers", "shifters", and "wipers".

Those slang-worthy and self-explanatory descriptors - along with a slim plot - sets Push up to be a passable teen fiction sci-fi flick, but McGuigan ends up by-passing the movie's one sustainable and entertaining idea (mind control as substitute for action-movie standard) and loses himself up a twisty-turny nonsensical plot. Push quickly becomes a film where your emotions and attentions fall out at midpoint only to give way to internal daydreams such as "Why did Djimon Hounsou's agent think this was a good idea?" and "Is this the last straw for Camilla Belle?".

For her part, Dakota Fanning does a fine job in the transitional role of Cassie, but there is something questionable about the way the filmmakers chose to photograph her in specific scenes. Coming off last year's Hounddog controversy perhaps I'm being ultra-sensitive here, but Fanning is costumed in a way-above-the-knees skirt that the camera seems just a bit too uncomfortably comfortable lingering upon. No, it doesn't reach a Larry Clark or Gus Van Zant level of creepiness, but it makes you wonder why an young actress, already gifted with expressive range, wasn't given more actorly respect. I guess I'll leave that question lingering alongside those other thought bubbles still floating in the theater.

3 comments:

hokahey said...

I was lured to Push mostly because of the poster and I felt misled in the same ways you did. Besides, Pusher is a much better moniker than Mover for someone with telekinesis. Then again, a lot of the labels were off. If those Bleeders weren't Screamers, I don't know what they were. I don't know if I have much more to offer in my own review, but I do recall feeling rather uncomfortable with Dakota Fanning's short skirt.

RC said...

your dakota comments are intersting...she has so much potential, but sometimes I fear her potential is dwindling, and it's all about Elle Fanning.

It's intersting to think how this poster might not best reflect the film.

Fox said...

hokahey-

I'm excited to see you started a blog! From your comments at The Cooler I always hoped you would, and now you did! Excellent!

Yeah... the choice of "bleeders" was strange b/c they only make you bleed out of your ears?!? I mean, even the "movers" could make you bleed if they wanted to.

But I thought the bleeders were the coolest characters b/c their eyes went feline whenever they screamed.

RC-

I'm big time pulling for Dakota. I like her in War of the Worlds and even in Man on Fire (which I despise as a total film). Just looking at her filmography I realized I really haven't seen enough of her work, but something about he seems wise to me, wiser than most child actors.

And she's good in Push. Not great, but good. There is one scene where she has to play drunk and it's kind of charming b/c you can tell she probably hasn't ever really been drunk but she's trying to act like it.

And I don't know if I've seen Elle Fanning in much. Is she considered better than Dakota?