Friday, February 6, 2009

Extraordinary People

The new sci-fi fantasy so-called thriller Push, starring the never-to-go-shirtless-again Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, and Djimon Honsou, opens today, and if you’re in the mood for a slightly better, longer episode of TV’s Heroes – and I say that because that show’s a mess these days – then you’re in luck.

Don’t get too excited just yet, though.

Evans plays Nick, a mover. This means he can, well…move objects or people telekinetically. Fanning – whom I really believed had gone into hiding since 2006’s Charlotte’s Web to avoid going through puberty in the spotlight but clearly had been shooting Push – is Cassie, a watcher (she can see the future). And Belle plays Kira, a pusher who can make her thoughts your own.

All three are hiding in Hong Kong from Division, a shadowy U.S. government agency that is hunting them down. In fact, Kira has escaped from their grasp, taking with her something they want back, and now Nick & Co. must work together to keep this safe, not to mention themselves, and maybe, just maybe bring down the agency.

Standing in their way, though, is Agent Carver (Honsou), a pusher who just won’t stop at nothing to keep them from achieving their goal.

So…OK – I’ve told you what you need to know about the plot of Push. Now let me talk about the execution.

Uhh…well, it’s a good-looking movie. Alright, read: If you’re going to do a movie like this then you need to make it really exciting. The concept is pretty cool and hip, that of calling these super-able people by names other than what we’d expect, and whatnot. Setting them in a far-off land works, too, since Hong Kong is such a great location. But you cannot make your action sooo derivative. It’s boring. You gotta make it edge-of-your-seat fun, not fidget-in-your-seat-because-you-know-what’s-coming by the book.

Evans makes a sympathetic lead, doing the most he can with a flatly written character, while Belle, whom I crush on from time to time, underwhelms with her limited range of facial and emotional expressions.

Fanning, though, is the reason to sit through this one.

She is a delight to watch – she is going to grow into a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. This is a smart way for her to bypass cutesy roles usually reserved for teen actresses – she says “s---” a couple of times in the movie! (and pulls it off). She remains the most effective of the whole bunch. (If this were an episode of Heroes, the petition for a spin-off would start here.)

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Summit Entertainment.

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