Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou, Maggie Siff, Cliff Curtis, Ming-Na, Nate Mooney, Neil Jackson, Scott Michael Campbell, Corey Stoll, Joel Gretsch, Colin Ford, Hal Yamanouchi, Xiao Lu Li
Written by: David Bourla
Directed by: Paul McGuigan
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, brief strong language, smoking and a scene of teen drinking
Running Time: 111
Date: 01/29/2009

Push (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Movers and Shakers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Paul McGuigan's Push drops us into a world filled with "pushers," "watchers," "movers" and other super-powered misfits -- all the result of Nazi experiments back in the 1940s -- as well as a sinister organization called Division that wishes to control all of them. When a "pusher," Kira (Camilla Belle) escapes, Division head Carver (Djimon Hounsou) will do anything to track her down. His "watchers" tell him to find Nick (Chris Evans), a "mover" living off the grid in Hong Kong, and Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a 13 year-old "watcher" with plans of her own. Cassie draws her visions of the future in her black sketchbook with her white gel pen (creating some very striking images). Of course, Hong Kong has its own super-powered gangsters -- including some who can open their mouths, scream, and shatter everything in earshot -- who wish to get in the game. What really struck me more than the plot itself was McGuigan's amazing use of location and space; it feels as if this movie and these characters are really living in Hong Kong. We see genuine city textures and vivid, palpable cityscapes. Moreover, this feeling extends into the rest of the movie. Regardless of what's on the page or what's being said, we feel as if these characters, all the way down to the minor ones, have been living these lives well before the movie started, each acting from his or her own motivations, rather than the plot requirements. Smarter viewers than myself may be able to pick out many logic and/or plot holes, but for me this combination of elements makes for an undeniably exciting movie. Perhaps best of all, when Push arrives at a comfortable stopping point, McGuigan and screenwriter David Bourla simply stop, rather than dragging every single scrap of plot threat out to some kind of boring conclusion; they leave us wanting more. (Note: Not to be confused with the other Push, directed by Lee Daniels, that scored at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The title of that film has been changed to Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.)

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