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Tuesday
Feb032009

Push

Push is one of those flicks where the trailers accurately portray the film's overall quality. They did nothing to excite me and were mediocre at best. Coincidentally, Push is just another middling, forgettable action picture. This is a case of "what you see is what you get," so if you saw ample amounts of awesome in the trailer, you'll probably love this. For this bearded fellow who desperately wanted a bit of substance to the absurdity, Push didn't provide that extra push (ha!) to warrant a recommendation.

There are people around us that have special powers, known by different names according to what they can do. (For the sake of brevity, I'll only name the three important ones.) Chris Evans plays Nick, a Mover who can create a protective shield and make objects levitate allowing for safe attacks while in cover. Dakota Fanning plays Cassie, a Watcher who can see into the future, although those events can be changed if the present is manipulated in a significant way. Camilla Belle plays Kira, a Pusher who can inject false memories and thoughts into her enemies' minds, allowing them to bend to her will. The three are being tracked by a U.S. government agency called the Division after Kira escapes from one of their test facilities. Because of this, they are forced to cooperate to elude the Division and change the bleak future that promises them death.

What follows is a pretty drab action movie with minimal amounts of action. There are really only two action scenes in the whole film, one about halfway through that is relatively short and one at the end that is lengthy, but disappointing. Neither of them are particularly mind-blowing. Still, they manage to entertain at times due to the undeniably cool powers that the characters possess. But there was one huge problem. After what is nearly a two hour movie, I was ready to see an epic clash between the warring factions, but instead I ended up seeing a whole crop of no name extras shooting each other due to the Pusher's ability to manipulate minds. Instead of fighting themselves, irrevelant brainwashed dudes ran in from all corners of the screen only to be shot up by even more irrelevant brainwashed dudes. This creates a dilemma in the audience member because you have no connection with the majority of the people fighting. How are you supposed to care about a battle when you don't care about who's in the thick of it?

Nevertheless, I can't deny that the time I spent seeing the powers in action was fun and in the end it served its purpose and worked. What didn't work is everything else. While the plot was quite unique, elements of it were a bit too convenient for my taste (which I won't go into here to avoid spoilers) and the drama and attempts at humor were fairly routine. In particular, a large portion of the dialogue was atrocious. Plenty of action movies have generic, cheesy lines, but Push set a new bar for modern action flicks. However, if it had gone for a sillier tone, this cheesiness would be excusable. The recent film Shoot 'Em Up is a perfect example of over-the-top silliness done right. That movie never took itself seriously, so instead of rolling your eyes at the dialogue, you were aware of the film's self parody and laughing at it. Push takes itself way too seriously, hoping to be an epic action flick and it fails.

Despite some of the lines they were forced to recite, the cast was fine overall. Djimon Hounsou was terrific as always and Dakota Fanning did whatever she could to elevate this mediocre material (although she did not belong in this film -- she deserves better). Even Camilla Belle surprised me. After her two starring roles in the horrendous When a Stranger Calls and my number one pick for worst movie of 2008, 10,000 B.C., I had all but given up hope, but she managed herself well this time.

Look, this is a stupidly fun movie that I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy; it just simply rubbed me the wrong way. There wasn't anything done here I haven't seen done better in countless other action flicks and I suggest going and finding one of those instead, but if you're really dying to see an action movie in the theater this weekend, go see Taken (which you can read my review of right here). The action is better, there's lots more of it, and its stylish as hell. Push is not a bad movie per se, although I am not recommending it, but if run-of-the-mill action movies are your cup of tea, be my guest. You might like it.

Push receives 2/5

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