Saturday, February 7, 2009
I used to love Heroes. I never got into it when the first season was on television, but on DVD, I got heavily into it. That alone made the Watch Instantly feature from my Netflix account worth the monthly fee. However, the past two seasons have been the antithesis of that, and you won't be catching me in front of the tv when it restarts sometime in the coming weeks.
There is just something about superheroes being placed inside a real world setting, that works for me. Push takes that formula, normal people + powers + real world, and tries to make a solid film come out on the other end. Does it work though?
Push is a sci-fi action film that involves a group of young American expatriates with telekinetic, telepathic, and clairvoyant abilities, hiding from a hidden U.S. government agency referred to only as "Division." They are on the hunt of the only woman that ever escaped from "Division". She is their only key to finding out how to escape the agency forever. They must also use their different talents and band together for one final job, enabling them to finally get out.
The film stars Chris Evans as Nick, a second generation "Mover" (simply put, he has telekinetic powers), and Dakota Fanning (a horribly underrated actress, who should be every tweens idol, NOT people like Miley Cyrus), as Cassie, a "Watcher", or someone who can tell the future. The story gets a little convoluted, so let me break down the powers for you all.
Movers can manipulate inanimate objects at varying distances. The actual technique is known as kinetic signature control, where the mover is trained to "hear" and identify the specific atomic frequency of any given material, and alter the gravity wave around it, usually producing the nearby air to appear "warped". Advanced movers can work at the molecular level creating protective shields in the air around them.
Pushers can "push" specific thoughts, memories, and even emotions into their targets. This technique can be used to gain a subject's trust, or to have them perform any action, thinking it was their own agenda.
Watchers are trained to self-induce visions of the future, very much like a prolonged sense of déjà vu. The technique of following the future, either of a person or object, is called subject tracking. A Watcher's skill is primarily rated by how far they can see into the future.
Bleeders have the ability to emit high-pitched sonic vibrations that cause ruptures in a target's blood vessels.
Sniffs are highly developed psychometrics who can track the location of either people or objects over varying distances. Like psychic bloodhounds, their tracking ability is increased if they have tactile access to an object that has been in direct contact with the subject. Sniffs receive information based on images, not specific addresses, which is why identifiable landmarks help increase their effectiveness.
Shifters can temporarily shift patterns of light on any object to create illusions to the naked eye. They work mostly on a touch basis, but once the illusion is established, it remains with the object for short periods of time. For example, a Shifter could momentarily touch a one dollar bill, altering its light pattern to appear as a one hundred dollar bill for hours, until the effect expires. The length of the shift is based on experience and ability.
Wipers are skilled at either temporary or permanent memory erasure, an invaluable asset in espionage. Experience will dictate the accuracy of their wipes, though the danger is always present that they will eliminate a desired memory.
Shadows are trained to block the vision of other clairvoyants such as Sniffs, making any subject within their target radius appear "dark". Experience will enhance the size of the area they can shadow and the intensity of their shielding effect. Shadows need to be awake to perform their ability, and it is common for a detail of two Shadows to operate in shifts while protecting a person or object for extended periods.
Stitchers are psychic surgeons trained to quickly reconstruct cells to their previous or healthy state. Using only their hands, they can heal and even "unheal" whatever they have done. For more detailed work, Stitches use a silver based cream on their hands which acts as a conductor to their ability.
Sounds a little hectic, right? Well the film is a little bit over the top. This is the newest film from Lucky Number Slevin director, Paul McGuigan, so you can tell it's going to have a little bit of style to it. The film is indeed stunning to look at. It's set in China, and it's a perfect place to set this hyper kinetic superhero flick. Visually, and musically as well, this film looks as to be heavily inspired by the films of Guy Ritchie, and for a superhero film, it's a perfect match. The colors are bright and really pop off of the screen, and the music is pumping, really moving the action forward.
There are also little flashes of what look to be 16mm film shots, that were really well used, just a little to few times. There were other really great flares outside of just the stylized action scenes. There were some really well shot tracking shots, particularly in the beginning, and the dialogue scenes were also rather well shot.
Also, the way the powers are broken down, and the differences between the people using them, is rather interesting. Particularly, the difference between two "Watchers" played by Dakota Fanning, and another actress. Fanning's character is able to tell the future, but only the outcome of it. Therefore, as nothing is set in stone (more on this in a brief second), it's always changing, making her power not truly impactful. However, the other character, part of a Chinese gang of "Bleeders", is able to tell peoples futures, based on intentions, making her insanely powerful. This difference not only was interesting to watch on screen, but it had me thinking. Was this a sly slap at religion and faith of some sort?
Take the power of Fanning's character for a second. She only tells what people will end up doing, or how they die. In the film however, she says she's not very good with her power, and it constantly changes, basically saying that no ones future has in inevitable end, that one can know before it happens. Then you have the character Pop Girl, played by Lu Lu, who reads peoples intentions. She is extremely powerful, and while she does have weaknesses, she is normally spot on. These interesting little comments, as pretentious as it may be, can be seen in this film, and along with the visual flares.
The acting, while not brilliant, was also rather solid. Chris Evan, best known as the Human Torch, proves, along with Sunshine from two years ago, that he is more than just a comedic playboy. Fanning is solid, and really funny, bringing some heart to the film, and Djimon Honsou looks like he is having a blast playing this true bad ass "Pusher". Camilla Bell is horrible, but luckily she doesn't do too much, so it's not to distracting. However, other things were.
Aside from Bells really horrible performance, this is one of the most convoluted stories I've sat through in a long time. I understood most if not all of it, but for an action film this visually kinetic, to have a story as energetic and static, it really made this more work than expected. That's not necessarily a flaw, but that is when the story doesn't end with a tidy ending, and with such an obvious ploy for a sequel. There is also a love story set inside of this action/thriller that does play into the ending, but the stuff you have to sit through to get there, is just so melodramatic, and really took away from the energy and fun that this film is.
If you don't mind doing a lot of work, story wise, please, do yourself a favor. Take some friends, grab some popcorn, and take a seat in front of Push.
Push - 6/10
Insanely fun, visually kinetic, yet equally so in the story, Push steps into theatres with a world of superhero films behind it. While it doesn't make a strong indentation, it does amount to a lot of fun, and finally, there is something worth looking at in theatres. Check this one out.
Go see something good!
Oh! I'll have a review of He's Just Not That Into You up tomorrow, along with a review of Revolutionary Road up sometime this week, I hope at least...
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