Nick takes on The Division in Push.
Nick (Chris Evans, Captain America, Fantastic Four) is a “mover”. He can “move” things with his mind. When I was a kid, it was called telekinesis, but I guess that’s not hip. He’s living in Hong Kong, cheating at dice games and trying to avoid The Division. In an opening credits back story, we’re told that The Division is a secret government group that uses psychics with various mental abilities. There’s also a drug that boosts psychic powers. As a boy, Nick watched The Division, specifically Carver (Djimon Hounsou), kill his father, so he hates them. We know Carver is the villain because he enters exactly like Darth Vader. One day, Nick is visited by Division agents who are looking for an escaped woman. This escaped woman, who has stolen something from Division, is a “pusher.” She can manipulate people, like Robert Patrick Modell in the X-Files episode “Pusher” (Cerulean blue...). As soon as the agents leave, a thirteen-year-old girl, Cassie (a maturing Dakota Fanning) visits. She is a “watcher.” Or, a clairvoyant. She draws the future in abstract sketches in her notebook.
Nick rolls the dice.
It turns out, a Chinese gang is also after the woman and her mystery case, have their own watcher, a young woman who sucks on lollipops, and pursue Nick and Cassie, using psychic screamers. We’re only twenty minutes in, and we’re already burdened with a massive and pointless back story and a dozen characters with different powers, bleeders and sniffers and a stitch. We don’t even know what the plot of this film is, or who the main characters are yet! Kira (Camilla Belle), having escaped Division, wakes up on a boat. Her mind’s been wiped by a guy who has that psychic power. She’s left herself a note: find Nick. Almost immediately, Division agents pick her up, but she escapes by convincing an agent that his partner killed his non-existent brother. Pointless, but now we’ve seen how her power works.
The camera shows a closeup of Nick’s chucks as he runs away from some pursuers.
Following a bead that belonged to Kira’s bracelet, with help from ex-Division psychic friends (Cliff Curtis, Ming Na), Nick and Cassie find Kira and, shock, Nick and Kira used to date. For the next while, the two reconnect, though she has no memory of where she put the briefcase. Meanwhile, Cassie is having premonitions that they’ll all die. Also, a big deal is made about Cassie’s mom, the “best watcher ever,” who is a prisoner in Division. That Chinese gang is still chasing them. Knowing it’s only a matter of time before they’re caught, Nick confronts Carver, whom he discovers is the man who killed his father, which we knew. It’s revealed the case has the super-drug that super-boosts their superpowers, which we’d already guessed. Also, Kira is the only surviving user of the drug, but she’ll die if she doesn’t get injections, adding some urgency. A fight ensues. Nick makes his guns float, a rival creates a shield against bullets, Nick is bashed against things.
Nick aims his gun at a Division enforcer.
We go into the third act, overwhelmed and exhausted. The film changes tone radically, and becomes like a heist/con film. Kira knows where the case is, but the Chinese watcher girl is watching. Because she can “sense intentions,” Nick comes up with a plan where they will make no certain decisions and act blindly. He gives everyone letters with instructions, and has his mind wiped by the guy on the boat. Meanwhile, Kira goes to Carver who “pushes” her. She is now evil Kira! Nick ends up at a construction site with the case. He’s set it up so Carver and Division are there at the same time as that Chinese gang. An even bigger superpower fight ensues, and Nick confronts evil Kira. To enhance the confusion, everyone just sort of walks away in the end. Nick is still alive, nice considering he was expected to die, and has the super-drug. Kira learns the truth, and it’s insinuated she kills Carver. So the whole “bringing down Division” prophecy is all a set up for action that happens OFF SCREEN!
Nick goes to walk away when he finally defeats one of the enforcers.
There are way too many of these films that want to be The Matrix or Star Wars, an epic action sci-fi trilogy. Equilibrium, Ultraviolet, Pandorum, Jumper, Underworld. And they all fail because instead of developing organically, they tell you their massive back story as a justification for stupid f/x action scenes. In the case of Push especially, the entire plot is pointed directly toward a big action finale. That means about 100 minutes of the film is just padding. Noise. Characters and an actual story are secondary to the business of f/x and action. This film is especially exhausting because it’s all style. While the script is hacky crap, though, a desperate X-Men/Matrix fused wannabe, it is well directed. It’s a credit to director Paul McGuigan that the film is as minimally engaging and smooth as it is. Chris Evans is likable, but stiff, as he usually is when playing a straight role. Dakota Fanning is the most charming, since she’s playing a edgy kid burdened with worry. Camilla Belle makes absolutely no impact whatsoever, which is fatal when her character is central to every beat of the entire film. Guaranteed, you will be annoyed and then bored, and only once in a while you’ll find something of interest. It’s a notch above a calamity.
Nick grabs the formula from its padded case.
A young Nick escapes from the room where is father is and falls down. He hides in fear while Division is killing his father.
In the opening scene, young Nick (Colin Ford) hides while Division takes down his father.
When the coast is clear Nick gets up to run away.
In the second of three action scenes, Nick enters an opulent restaurant to confront Carver and ends up getting bashed against the walls and ceiling. Bad for him, but it displays his chucks nicely.
Nick gets thrown up onto the walls and ceiling of the restaurant.
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