Psychics are being rounded up by a shadowy government agency called the Division for experimentation to boost their powers so they can assemble a formidable army. But the trials are dangerous and almost no-one survives them. Second generation telekinetic (or Mover), Nick Gant (Chris Evans) has been hiding in Hong Kong since his father was killed more than ten years earlier. But 13 year old clairvoyant (or Watcher) Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), seeks him out, asking his help to find a briefcase, she says contains $6 million. They have to find Kira (Camilla Belle), an escaped Pusher, who has the ability to implant thoughts into others' minds, but this attracts the attention of the Division's human bloodhounds and Nick and Cassie are forced to go on the run. Division Agent Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou), who is also a Pusher, is not easily deterred.
Review by Louise Keller:
First you have to get a handle on the terms of reference. There are Movers and Watchers, Pushers, Stitches, Sniffs, Shadows, Bleeders, Shifts and Wipers, who are all psychics with different special powers. They can wipe memories, plant ideas, move objects, predict the future, sniff out your location, hide a location, heal and shatter glass. That is the film's first hurdle. There is so much to absorb and remember, it's hard to keep up. I wouldn't mind having some of their skills, that's for sure. Especially that of a Pusher, who is expert in the power of suggestion, so much so that the subject is unable to differentiate what is true and what is not.
Pushing ideas into other people's minds is what this sci-fi fantasy thriller is all about, and Paul McGuigan's film looks great with its atmospheric Hong Kong setting, spectacular visual effects and interesting concepts. The cast is good too. But there's a problem. The story doesn't make sense. Even if you take a couple of giant leaps of faith, there are always problematic questions that arise, which deflate the film's credibility and ability to make us believe. It's a shame, because on many levels it is able to transport us into another world.
Trying to go into detail about all of the many characters would be far too confusing, but suffice to say, the thrust of the plot concentrates on Chris Evans' Nick (who can use his telekinetic skills to win at any dice game) and Dakota Fanning's Cassie, who is a Watcher (who predicts the future by sketching on little art boards), who team up to try and find a suitcase supposedly containing a lot of money. They both deliver, although it is unrealistic to imagine a 13 year old could pull off a scene in which she has had too much to drink. One hopes that is beyond her real-life experience. Camilla Belle is intriguing as Kira, the Pusher on the run (when she exercises her power of suggestive abilities, her pupils dilate, making her entire eye turn black), but Djimon Hounsou is wasted as the agent from the evil Division. Peter Sova's cinematography of Hong Kong is inspiring (the streets, the bustle, the harbour at night) and the direction excellent.
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PUSH (2009) (M)
CAST: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle and Djimon Hounsou
PRODUCER: Bruce Davey, William Vince, Glenn Williamson
DIRECTOR: Paul McGuigan
SCRIPT: David Bourla
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Sova
EDITOR: Nicolas Trembasiewicz
MUSIC: Neil Davidge
PRODUCTION DESIGN: François Séguin
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 27, 2009