If you add up all the recent movies about ordinary-looking people who walk among us with special hidden powers, you might conclude that there are no normal people left. The accountant next door might be a secret mutant, time traveler, mythological character or cyborg, but he is rarely just an accountant.
“Push” is the latest in this genre, and director Paul McGuigan has learned from and built upon many of the films that have gone before. “Push” offers a whole bestiary of people born with special talents, including Movers, Shifters, Pushers, Sniffers, Bleeders and Watchers. Some of their talents are familiar– Watchers, for example, seem to be your standard clairvoyants. But others, such as Bleeders, are a little further off the beaten track: they scream at an ear shattering, brain-pulping pitch.
The mutants in Push are pursued by a nefarious government agency called “The Division” which wants to harness their powers and exploit them for military purposes. Those who are fortunate enough to avoid being locked up in a prison hospital and subjected to horrendous medical experiments go underground in remote locations in an effort to escape detection by the authorities. The movie opens as Nick Gant, a young boy with the telekinetic powers of a “Mover,” watches his father being murdered by agents of the Division. Gant’s father’s last desperate words to his son are a prediction that some day a girl in need of help will come to him with a flower. Years later, our hero has grown into a young man (Chris Evans) who is hiding out in Hong Kong to stay one step ahead of the agents who killed his father. Lo and behold, he is approached by a young girl with a flower, Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning) who is another type of mutant– a “Watcher” who draws pictures of the future, and the two are off and running on an adventure to find the secret suitcase and bring down the evil “Division.”
This movie is a fast moving, erratic combination of clever and cliche, of imaginative visuals and unbearably corny dialogue. There are innovative moments, such as a shoot-out in a restaurant between telekinetically manipulated guns hovering in the air, or a chase through a Hong Kong shop filled with huge fish tanks where the screams of “Bleeders” cause the fish in the tanks to burst into red blossoms. On the other hand, sometimes the lines of dialogue are so awful that the screaming of the Bleeders seems like a welcome relief.
One of the best parts is the backdrop of Hong Kong — old shops and winding streets with ancient musicians playing traditional instruments and house boats on the dock — which proves more interesting than some imaginary alien planet. It may be better than the average mutant-next-door movie, even if it doesn’t have any hidden special powers.