Directed by: Paul McGuigan Runtime: 1 hr 51 min Rated: PG-13
Studio: Summit Entertainment Screenwriter: David Bourla
Cast: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou
In 2009, “super” anything movies had not yet taken the world by storm, with enthralling special effects, CGI, costumes, and storylines that would play the long game with fans the world over. The original Fantastic Four movie came out a few years before this, also starring Chris Evans. And the MCU would begin the following year with Iron Man. For context.
Nick Grant (Chris Evans) and Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning) are two powered Americans in Hong Kong. Nick is hiding out from Division Agent Carver (Djimon Hounsou) after Agent Carver kills Nick’s father. Cassie shows up to help Nick find Division property and a missing woman (Camilla Belle). Division is a side organization within the U.S. Government that tracks down enhanced people with mental powers. That’s the gist of the plot.
In terms of believability, it’s a cliché of a story. Powered people are hunted to be weaponized or disposed of if they don’t comply. Yet, it transitions well from one scene to the next for a story with an unassuming premise. It has a pace that works with the B-grade camera style that is at times gritty and shaky. That with the low lighting of the streets and decor of Hong Kong it works. In a way, it helps set the tone because this sense of realism would be lost if it was clean and smooth. Between the camera delivery and the cinematography itself, mixed with the action, one can forgive the cliché.
Evans and Fanning have the chemistry of siblings, but they aren’t. They work off one another so well it enhances their respective performances. Hounsou always has this gravitas about him in his roles. In Push, he is clearly the main threat without working at it or doing too much to assert his character’s ruthlessness. The most dangerous people tend to be the quieter ones who don’t yell but flex their power in other ways; that’s Agent Carver. Kira Hudson (Camilla Belle) is a vehicle for the plot. Still, Belle’s delivery of her character is as believable and entertaining as a wet sock.
The issue that I find most at fault with this story is tying up loose ends. Cassie is basically an unaccompanied minor running around Hong Kong. The film addresses her mother but never explains how a 13-year-old American gets there. Push could have been a little longer and fleshed out a more satisfying ending, but it didn’t. It barely made more in the box office than it cost to produce- for a studio that qualifies as a flop. Flops don’t get sequels. Push ended with a setup to answer questions in a sequel that never came. Maybe if the story had been more original, it would have satisfied audiences more. Despite the lackluster box office earnings, the film still garnered mixed reviews.
Push isn’t the best movie of all time, but it’s a good watch for action and decent acting with a cast that makes up for an otherwise bland concept. Don’t go in expecting to be wowed. This movie is a fair way to kill two-hours without feeling like you’ve lost brain cells by doing so. Push isn’t so bad you couldn’t put it on your watchlist.
-a pen lady