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Push past

Movies | Superhero film is one to avoid

Issue: "New breed of homeless," Feb. 28, 2009

There's something vaguely Seussian about Push, and it's not just the total absurdity of the premise, or the childlike innocence it demands from viewers. Perhaps it's the deeply silly categories of warrior superhero in its world: Pushers, Movers, Wipers, Shadows, Sneetches . . . so many other movies to steal from, so little time.

Screenwriter David Bourla's plot is also something that might conceivably please a 5-year-old: All the psychics in Hong Kong liked fighting a lot. But our hero, a Mover named Nick Gant, did not. All day long he would mope. He would wonder, "Why bother?" because (in a flashback) some bad guys killed his father. Chris Evans, who plays Nick, earns some well-deserved panning, since he's not half as good as young Dakota Fanning. Dakota gets drunk; there are fights in a bar-it's enough for a PG-13, not an R.

In all seriousness, this isn't a movie for kids. Or anyone, really. It's dumber than toast, so adults have no incentive to get involved in any of the giant, reasonably cool-looking set pieces. Film nuts are encouraged to snicker at helmer Paul McGuinan's endless visual tributes to Chinese romantic filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai. Children will be frightened by the forced suicides (a favorite method of the mind-controlling "Pushers") and scary scenes of human experimentation in the labs of the evil Nazi/U.S. government organization creatively named "The Division."

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The real problem with Push is that the star-bellied superpeople-sorry-don't seem much different than the evil kind. They unthinkingly kill people in any number of terrible ways and don't really seem to have any goal besides saving the Fanning character's mother. It's a pretty flimsy premise for a bloody rampage. On paper, the Jason-Bourne-meets-the-X-Men premise must have looked like a winner. In execution, it's less complex and interesting than One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Seuss, after all, was writing for small children on purpose.


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