(In theaters, February 2009) I wasn’t expecting much from this teen action thriller: Psychic powers are a bit lame in the SF field, and the first few minutes are so clumsy that it’s a wonder when the film does improve later on. But thanks to a few good characters, plot twists and clever sequences, Push manages to end up on an up note. No, the plot doesn’t make sense when you consider the knowledge that a non-precog character should or should not have had when writing a certain set of letters. But it hardly matters when the film rushes straight-ahead into the suspense and action sequences. It could have been considerably better, mind you: The direction is harsh and chaotic, the script is a bit too bloodthirsty and the art direction sees the Hong Kong location as an excuse to be as garish as it can be. But the same Hong Kong location makes up for spectacular backdrops, exotic location and an interesting Asian cast. In some ways, this is this year’s Jumper, what with young psychic people fighting against shadowy organizations in exotic locales. But in other ways it’s quite a bit better as long as you get past the film’s various annoyances and flawed direction. The ending blatantly leads to a follow-up: maybe, if there’s a sequel, it will be a bit better.
(Second Viewing, on DVD, May 2011) I think I like the movie a bit more upon a re-view: The script has moments of invention, Paul McGuigan’s direction is energetic, the actors bring something extra to the film (with special mentions of Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans and Djimon Hounsou’s work) and Hong Kong makes for a great location. Too bad the DVD isn’t anything special: The commentary (featuring McGuigan, Fanning and Evans) is about shooting experiences and them trying to understand the script. Of the handful of deleted scenes, one one actually brings something new. Finally, the only special feature is an obnoxious “Science behind the fiction” piece that relies on a single biased talking head to try to make viewers believe in psi powers. It’s disappointing when perfectly good unpretentious SF is ruined by those who take it too seriously.