Thursday, August 13, 2009

Catching Up on DVD: 'Push'

By Chase Kahn

Paul McGuigan's Push, a superpowers-versus-government action film, is a flat-out mess. Not a disastrous cluster or anything that would cause you to lose your faith in cinema. I suppose the good news is that part of me wishes that Push was better than it actually is, or rather that the script was more polished and less antsy, because it does do some things well.

The film is captured brilliantly on location in Hong Kong, China, where we get a lived-in, very atmospheric and palpable Eastern Asia vibe. Although it makes no sense as our decidedly white heroes don't exactly blend in to their environment, making that whole, "hiding out from the government" thing rather difficult.

Never-the-less, cinematographer Peter Sova and the rest of the crew have scouted out marvelous locations including a deep red hotel with narrow hallways and an expansive restaurant that looks more like a fun house and serves as a centerpiece for one of the film's main action set pieces.

Push does suffer from over-editing, a very common trait these days, but it's not a travesty. It's just that, when you have a great location like Hong Kong, it'd be nice if we could see it for more than few seconds, as it looks fantastic. Action scenes are complemented by nice visual effects and choreography, but the angry-shouting Chinese bad guys are laughable. This is your superpower? Really?

The main problem here is David Bourla's original script. I hate to bag on it because finally, here's a superhero film that isn't based on a comic book, graphic novel or Hasbro toy-line. Unfortunately, it's such a fundamentally formulaic and underwritten ordeal that Push feels at once like a rushed and convoluted mess, then like a strict genre piece and cheap knockoff between Jumper and "Heroes" the next.

Supporting characters and powers are hardly given an introduction before playing integral parts in the story. There are too many factions and too many villains all going after a MacGuffin, which turns out to be a disappointingly simplistic and head-spinning motivator to justify the path of destruction left in its wake.

Cast members are actually pretty solid with Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning and Camile Belle playing the leads, while Djimon Honsou plays the obligatory black guy hunting down super-powered white people. Samuel L. Jackson is looking for work, by the way.

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