Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Movies: Push

It's no secret that Hollywood abhors risk. When you're pitching a screenplay, for instance, it's natural to fit it into whatever pigeonhole is popular at the moment. The danger here is not that the flood of "me-too" films will drown out truly excellent movies - those will always stand apart from the crowd. Rather, it's that derivative but well-made films like "Push" will get lost in the shuffle:

"Push" is directed by Paul McGuigan, and he does a pretty good job. McGuigan has an excellent sense of pacing, spicing up the movie with good-looking action scenes and the requisite quiet emotional moments. He also puts in details - like the eclectic soundtrack and the Hong Kong location - that give the whole production a decidedly cyberpunk feel (for good measure, there's triads, superpowers, and girls with strange haircuts).

Make no mistake, though: the movie's relentlessly derivative, cribbing liberally from all kinds of source material. In fact, the whole concept is reminiscent of last year's "Jumper," right down to the nefarious organization led by a black man (In "Jumper" it was Samuel L. Jackson, here it's Djimon Hounsou) that's tasked with capturing people with superpowers. There are also precognition shenanigans (think "Minority Report"), and they serve to camouflage a fairly nonsensical "find the MacGuffin" type of plot.

Still, the actors do a good job. Academy Award nominee Hounsou plays a convincingly cool villain, and Dakota Fanning combines deadpan snarkiness with some vulnerabilitiy. Even Chris "Human Torch" Evans puts in a likable performance, which almost warrants a 7/10 rating by itself.

Rating: 7/10


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