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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Push (review)

Dakota Fanning is the Littlest Action Hero in this disappointingly generic shoot-’em-up dressed up with a few paranormal frills about regular people with capital-P Powers whom the government experiments on, hoping to turn them into weapons, until they escape and start causing havoc. Fanning (The Secret Life of Bees), a street urchin who can see the future, teams up with telekinetic Chris Evans (Street Kings), whose charm is wasted here, to find a missing suitcase — crammed with, supposedly, $6 million — that was allegedly stolen by Camilla Belle (10,000 B.C.), who can “push” ideas into people’s heads, when she made her great government escape. Or did she? The concept that notions can be “pushed” into one’s head seems like the ideal excuse for a mind frak, but no such luck here, as the wide-open possibilities this world presents are all but disposed of as of less interest than gun battles and fistfights with the tiniest of tedious twists on what we see all the time. Scottish director Paul McGuigan made the intriguing The Reckoning at home then came to Hollywood to make silly movies like Wicker Park — if he seemed to be on a bit of rebound with Lucky Number Slevin, well, never mind. Here, he’s working from a script by David Bourla, who has previously penned flicks with such titles as Doomsday Rock and When Time Expires, which makes me think they must be bad bits of Sci Fi Channel nonsense. And this monotonous tale would have been relegated to a cable ghetto if not for the star power of Fanning and, to a lesser degree, Evans, who are more compelling together than the rest of the movie around them can cope with. The missing case is so particularly MacGuffin-ish that, in the end, it feels like we’ve just watched a middle episode of a bad season of Heroes. And seeing guys stop bullets telekinetically gets old surprisingly fast.


Watch Push online using LOVEFiLM’s streaming service.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, brief strong language, smoking and a scene of teen drinking

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • JoshDM

    Rank in order of good:

    Push, Wanted, Jump.

    I don’t believe the upcoming “Kick Ass” belongs in the above list.

  • Gawd!

    This is very disappointing, MaryAnn. I demand you re-write your review so that I am at least kinda willing to sit through this and make my own judgments.

    But alas, I knew already how hard this would suck; I just didn’t wanna believe it. I guess I should thank you for saving me from soul-crushing disappointment yet again. But, goddammit, I really want to see a good sci-fi flick sometime soon that doesn’t involve comic books. Something new and sping-tinglishly original.

  • Can you really use the terms “original” and “Hollywood” in the same sentence while keeping a straight face?

    Okay, it happens every once in a blue moon, when the cock crows fourteen times before Venus rises and a three-headed goat is born in Montana, but there’s also an awful lot of formulaic re-hash out there.

    I keep watch on MaryAnn’s blog because she shares my taste for the original (and for Doctor Who). Sadly, only a few producers (notably Pixar and Laika) have gotten the message.

    Otherwise, I refuse to shell out $7.50 to sit still, shut up, and be bored by something presented on a large screen. I get paid better money to do that at work.

  • cb

    The more I learn about this film the less interest I have.

    At first based on the trailers I thought it was a movie all about telekinetics, and the title was referring to this ability. I could stand to watch a popcorn-muncher movie that explored what kind of awesome fight sequences you could have with a bunch of kicking butt with telekinesis.

    Then I learned Dakota’s character could see the future, and I thought okay, there are two types of powers in the movie, hers must be the plot-mover-forwarder power.

    Now I hear the title refers to the power to ‘push’ thoughts into someone’s head? And they don’t even bother to explore something so powerful? And I would assume that there are other powers, also largely unexplored?

    Sad. Wanted is a good example, not of a great movie, but one that knew how to keep its premise simple. Everyone just had super reflexes/strength, and gun tricks. Shake liberally, watch cool action fall out. This sounds like a mess.

    A mess that doesn’t even adequately handle the limited scope I had originally envisioned. If “seeing guys stop bullets telekinetically gets old surprisingly fast”, then they didn’t do it right. Though I kinda suspected that even early on, since really if you can stop bullets with your mind, why do you need a gun in the first place? Darth Vader showed us better than that in the 80s.

  • TwistedKestrel

    You know, I was perfectly happy with the movie until reading this. Okay, so all of the action scenes fail to deliver on their potential, save for maybe the first two Camilla Belle was in – you can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy them. Hang on, add to that the first half of the last scene she was in.

    Okay, every scene Camilla Belle was in, minus the ones where Djimon Hounsou opened his mouth.

    Eh? Eh?

    Also. Drunk Dakota Fanning, adorable. Hooker Skirt Dakota Fanning, creepy.

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