Movie Review: ‘Push’

By James Carroll
James Carroll
James Carroll
February 19, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo

Some will glibly describe Push as just another sci-fi/action hybrid along the lines of last year’s disappointing Jumper or TV’s increasingly disappointing Heroes. They would be doing it an injustice though, for Push is the most superior sci-fi restyling since the Wachowskis first wowed us waaaay back in the last millennium with the original (and best) The Matrix.

An origin story minus the conventional machinations, Push drops us into a pre-existing world just slightly removed from our own. In this world there are “super-psychics”; people imbued with incredible powers beyond us mere mortal beings. Our archetypical reluctant hero is the growing-in-power “Mover” Nick (Chris Evans). Managing to stay under the Division’s (an evil US Government agency) radar for most of his adult life, Nick is finally drawn into a generations-old conflict when two very different women come calling.

One is “Watcher” Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a precious 13-year-old whose future is intricately tied in with Nick’s own. The other is Kira (Camilla Belle), a Pusher immensely important to Division and who has a history with Nick. Hot on the ladies’—and subsequently Nick’s—tails are senior Division agents Pusher Carver (Djimon Hounsou) and Mover Victor (Neil Jackson), as well as a “super-psychic” Chinese Mafia faction who will stop at nothing to get the MacGuffin, no matter who they harm in their way.

A Shane Black-style, 80s-flavoured, banterish buddy action flick fused with the superpowered heroics of the X-Men, Push is an unashamedly derivative mishmash of previous mixed-genre classics. It has the kinetic intensity of current go-to action movie template The Bourne Trilogy and the sci-fi effects-heavy stylings of the aforementioned Matrix, yet somehow ends up an original and exciting new action spectacular.

Continuing the current trend of favouring a real-world aesthetic, Push is no brainless blockbuster but a cerebral one. Full of crosses, double crosses, altered memories and alternate realties, you really have to concentrate on the evolving events otherwise things easily become confusing.

The action is mostly low-key and semi-realistic, rather than overblown scenes of Bayhem that so normally typify the effects-action blockbuster. Of course these are “powered” people so there are some retina-scorching, expertly rendered visual effects scattered throughout the thoroughly entertaining 111 minutes; the best of which is the advanced telekinetic manipulation of the air that puts a new spin on being bulletproof. These “Movers” may not be able to dodge bullets, but they sure can deflect them away, which more than does the job whilst looking every bit as cool as Neo did…

…Just as Push pushes (sorry) all other recent sci-fi/action/superhero hybrids to the back of your mind. Yes, it really is that good. So, for those that like a bit of action-based, cerebrally stimulating, blockbusting, big screen cinema in their lives and want to see something new that makes them feel as excited as they did the first time they laid their oglers on the original Matrix, then this is the next great film for you.

It's All in the Reflexes

Worried you might be confused by the range of “super-psychic” superheroes on show in new franchise-starter Push? You shouldn’t be, thanks to our handy little guide.

Pushers—The most powerful of all the Push world powers, a Pusher is able to plant specific thoughts, desires, emotions and even lasting memories into their targets meaning they can manipulate people to their will, even to the extent of making instant allies out of previously sworn enemies.

Movers—Movers have the ability to manipulate any inanimate object to their will. The most powerful of these super-psychics can work to a molecular level, meaning they can create protective “force fields” from the air molecules around them. Which is both effective and cool looking.

Watchers are the precogs of the Push world. Able to experience events before they occur, those with weaker powers can see a few minutes into the future; those with more potent capabilities can extend their visions hours or even days ahead.

Stitches—Psychic surgeons, Stitches are able to return damaged cells to a more healthy state in moments. This means Stitches are a handy type of person to have around when you’re in a fight for your life against other “super-psychics” such as…

Bleeders—As unpleasant as their name makes them sound, Bleeders are assassins that emit high-pitched sonic vibrations that cause ruptures in their target’s blood vessels. Nasty.

Sniffs—Utilising their heightened sense of smell in conjunction with clairvoyance, Sniffs are able to track the location of people or objects over distances great and small. With tactile access to an object bearing “psychic residue” their tracking ability is greatly increased.

Shifters—Basically the David Blaines of the Push world, Shifters are able to “shift” the patterns of light around any object that they make physical contact with to make it look like something else entirely (for a limited period of time). They cannot physically alter the shape or size of the object however.

Shadows—Trained to block the visions of Sniffs and Watchers, Shadows have the ability to make any subject within their variable range appear “dark”. Their power is dependant on consciousness however, so it is common for two Shadows to work together in shifts.

Wipers—Memory erasers, Wipers can either temporarily or permanently expunge experiences from any person or even other “super-psychics”.

James Carroll
James Carroll