Push (2009)

Director: Paul McGuigan
Writer: David Bourla
Cast: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Nate Mooney, Djimon Hounsou, Maggie Siff, Neil Jackson, Joel Gretsch, Corey Stoll, Scott Michael Campbell, Ming-Na Wen, Xiaolu Li
Seen on: 18.3.2023

Content Note: orientalism/racism, dubious consent

In a world where many people have supernatural abilities, Nick (Chris Evans) hides himself and his telekinesis in Hong Kong, so that Division forces won’t use him for their experiments to create super-powered soldiers. And since his powers aren’t all that strong, they leave him alone. But then two agents (Corey Stoll, Scott Michael Campbell) knock at his door to try to find a woman that Nick has never heard of. Shortly afterwards, Cassie (Dakota Fanning) turns up at his doorstep. She can see the future and knows that Nick can not only find the woman – Kira (Camilla Belle) -, but that it is imperative that they find her before Division does.

Push is a confused and confusing film with bad dialogues that explains so much but still never makes any sense at all. I had trouble writing that plot intro, and I am pretty sure that’s not my problem but the film’s. There are a couple of nice moments, but it all gets lost in wave after wave of nonsense.

The film poster showing Carver (Djimon Hounsou), Cassie (Dakota Fanning), Nick (Chris Evans) and Kira (Camilla Belle) walking next to each other. Nick is pushing his hand outwards, circles of light emanating from them.

The film starts with a whole lot of exposition that I already only half-way followed to then open the hunt of the for the MacGuffin of which I’m still not entirely sure what it does, exactly and why everybody wanted it so badly. To make matters worse, it introduces not only seeing the future (though that future can still be changed), but also erasing memories, making not only decisions and results kind of intransparent to the audience but also to the characters themselves. (Plus, can I just say: if you see the future through the intentions of people, how come all you get to see is the results?)

I’m not saying that Bourla himself didn’t understand his own script, although he certainly didn’t seem to realize certain implications like when Kira who has the ability to put thoughts into people’s head actually pushes thoughts into Nick as a flirt, that’s all kinds of fucked up and not romantic at all. But even if Bourla knew exactly how his world works and what exactly his characters are doing and thinking, it certainly doesn’t translate to us as an audience.

Nick (Chris Evans) and Cassie (dakota Faning) standing in a Hong Kong market, looking threatened.

In addition, the movie is set in Hong Kong, but focuses pretty much entirely on white people, with a bad Black guy and a couple of minor roles for Asian people who barely get a name, let alone a personality. That’s a special kind of exoticism that is clumsy at best, but actually rather racist.

I had heard how bad the film was before, so my expectations were quite low – but the film managed to be a tad better than I expected. The cast isn’t that bad, though Evans and Belle have approximately zero chemistry. There are a couple of nice fight scenes (though by far all of them). But that is far from making it a good film. Very far.

Carver (Djimon Hounsou) holding a beat-up looking Nick (Chris Evans) by the shoulder. Kira (Camilla Belle) is standing behind them.

Summarizing: save yourself the time, skip this film.

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