I’m going to start by saying that Push is one of the best-looking films I’ve seen all year. It’s beautiful. It comes as no surprise that the director of photography was Peter Sova, who most recently worked on last year’s The Strangers (which was beautiful in its own horrid way). Push has to be the prettiest contemporary superhero movie ever made. Each frame is gorgeous – full of rich colours without ever becoming cluttered.
The fact that practically the entire film is set in Hong Kong makes it stand out, also. Not only does it give Sova and the art directors/production designers a chance to dress some wonderful sets and locations, but it’s also a welcome change from the usual North American cityscape synonymous with superhero settings.
The film is also populated by some great performances. At the forefront is Dakota Fanning, who continues to astound. That she can draw attention away at the age of 14 from a room full of adult actors is incredible. Chris Evans is good in the lead role, though he continues to fail to live up to his performance in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Djimon Hounsou and Camilla Belle are also adequate, though are constrained by a script that doesn’t let them move an inch.
And thus we come to the glaring flaw of Push – the script. Push describes a world in which those with supernatural abilities are hunted down by ‘Division’ who want to use their quarry’s powers for nefarious purposes. Cassie (Fanning), Kira (Belle) and Nick (Evans) are the focal point of Division’s energies, though the evil company’s rather uncomplicated aim is explained away in the opening titles.
This is one of those annoying films which feature a voice over at the beginning, gratuitously providing a ‘backstory’ that in fact makes the next half hour irrelevant. You can sense that this wasn’t in the original script but was subsequently added, as with Lady in the Water (Dark City has to be one of the only films that’s successfully integrated a forced voiceover). Once the characters have finally learnt what we knew from the first minute, the story starts to get a little tricky. At first I thought that there was a clever film beginning to blossom, but by the end realised that it was all nonsense. The narrative twists and turns make very little sense in the long run, and whilst there are some nicely choreographed action scenes, it’s not enough to satisfy.
The story has problems from the outset. Because there are ‘watchers’ who can see the future and ‘sniffers’ that can track your every move, it’s very hard to stay ahead of the bad guys. The narrative ties itself in knots. Since Division can see the future, all they can do is sit around and wait for it to happen. They are simply too powerful, and the only resulting course of action for our heroes is too radical to be convincing. The extent of the superheroes’ powers isn’t very clear, either. They’re unstoppable one moment then useless the next.
Push is beautifully constructed and well performed, but unfortunately fails in the story department. If you just sit back and don’t think too hard about proceedings then it’s a reasonably entertaining film, otherwise it’s just a silly comic book wannabe.Rating: