THE PLANK FEBRUARY 6, 2009
Has Marvel comics somehow copyrighted not only the X-Men, but the actual descriptive term "mutant"? I ask because the word is conspicuously absent from Push, director Paul McGuigan's highly X-Menny little action thriller. Instead, his super-powered youth on the run from a diabolical, quasi-military organization that wants to weaponize them are called "psychics," even though not all of their abilities seem mind-related. Sure, there are telekinetic "movers," precognitive "watchers," and telepathic "pushers," but what is one to make of the "bleeders," who scream so loudly that they can shatter glass and wood and make their enemies' heads explode? (A response, I should note, not unlike my own to Steve Martin’s accent in The Pink Panther 2.)
The story, such as it is, revolves around a mover named Nick (Chris Evans) and a watcher named Cassie (Dakota Fanning) who are trying to get their hands on a case whose contents will give them leverage against "The Division" and its deadly operative Carver (Djimon Hounsou). That is, until Nick's old flame Kira (Camilla Belle) shows up and Cassie is pushed a bit to the side. (It sucks being thirteen.) There's much hiding and chasing and fighting across the underbelly of Hong Kong; psychics with other abilities--healing wounds, altering matter, sensing an object's "memories," etc.--are consulted and confronted; tough-guy dialogue is exchanged by all.
Evans brings his usual surfer charm to the proceedings, and Fanning is awkwardly endearing, teetering on the cusp between girlhood and maturity. Belle, though, is blank as a page, and the intended romantic chemistry between her and Evans is never in evidence. At one point in the film, she turns on him and we're meant to wonder whether she merely brainwashed him into believing they were in love, or Carver brainwashed her into believing they weren't. Alas, Push had failed to brainwash me into caring one way or the other.