Directed by Paul McGuigan. Starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou, Maggie Siff, Scott Michael Campbell. (2009, PG-13, 111 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 13, 2009
They're out to get you. A global consortium of wealthy, powerful, vested interests, allied to various shadow governments and unfettered by morals or rule of law, seeking only to control those among us who are … different. Quick: Name that movie. (Or if you're a conspiracy buff – and these days, who isn't? – name that rogue federal agency.) Push, a generically incomprehensible paranoid action disaster with cyberpunk overtones, is like X-Men unhinged, minus Professor Xavier's (or Bryan Singer's) guiding hand. It also sports a triple-espresso-and-LSD-laced storyline that I'm pretty sure breaks at least one of the Geneva Conventions regarding cruel and unusual mindfuckery. It's as if someone at the National Security Agency watched last year's equally mystifying Jumper and data-mined all the least comprehensible bits and then turned them over to some twisted spook in psy-ops over at Langely with instructions to "blow their minds, baby." Is this a case of twisted genius gone awry (director McGuigan did the equally puzzling but vastly superior Lucky Number Slevin in 2006) or, more likely, a misstep in adolescent actor Fanning's heretofore charmed résumé? Whichever, Push is riveting in its ability to annoy and bewilder. Fanning plays Cassie, a precocious, second-generation mutant kid with the ability to see the future and, apparently, gain access to the Olsen twins' wardrobe trailer. She's pursued by Hounsou's aptly named Carver, a sweaty, hoodied, Rolex-sporting agent of the "Division," who rightly views her as a threat to his Nazi-initiated plans for creating an unbeatable army of psychic supersoldiers. Or something. In Hong Kong, Cassie joins up with another renegade mutant, Nick (Evans, who was far more interesting as the Fantastic Four's astonishingly uninteresting Human Torch), and the Division's real quarry, runaway Kira (Belle), the only known survivor of Carver's experimental mutant-ability-enhancement program. Chaos ensues, but not enough to make Push anything more than a possibly entertaining timekiller to watch with your hippie neighbor who just harvested his Bastrop ’shroom crop. If I'm not mistaken – and I'm not, because I can see the past with my mind, okay? – I saw the original version of this same story 28 years ago. It was called Scanners, and it blew my mind for real. Push just blows.