When trailers for Push first debuted, my immediate thought was “Oh hey, a sequel to Jumper…interesting.” But, as it turned out, these two films were not related in any way…in the literal sense, anyway. In the visual sense both films looked the same and even featured a mixture of cast members that had success in their own right (though Dakota Fanning seems terribly out of place here, if only because her acting caliber is at a much higher level than the dude from Fantastic Four that sets himself on fire and says witty things). Still, having moderately enjoyed Jumper, I knew I’d at least enjoy Push from a visual sense…which sadly for the film seems to be all critics could look at, as the film was poorly received and just barely made back its budget…but at least it wasn’t a complete failure.
Hang on tight as a gang of super-powered paranormal operatives takes you on a white-knuckle thrill ride. The excitement starts when a future-seeing Watcher (Dakota Fanning) convinces a telekinetic Mover (Chris Evans) to help steal a briefcase that holds a billion-dollar secret. But to outrun government agents, they must enlist a mind controlling Pusher (Camilla Belle) who could be their salvation – or their doom. Also starring Academy Award Nominee Djimon Hounsou, Push will pull you in completely.
Right from the beginning and straight through to the end, the visuals of Push entice the viewer. It delivers a rarely seen (in American cinema) polished look at Korean cityscapes and beautiful architecture and design, but behind the polish and pomp, the film really doesn’t have much to help support itself up with. Like Jumper, it wants to rely on the audience filling in the blanks of the mythology presented in the film with stories they see from other science fiction outings. We’re given a brief rundown of those who have powers in this world we’re presented with and how they’re all using their powers against one another to help some mystical company that wants to harness their powers and create an army. It’s like a more mundane X-Men as multiple people all have the same power and it’s all just a bunch of people with varying levels of the same ability fighting one another.
Our main hero, played by Chris Evans, never really never develops his powers all that much either, and seems to present powers depending on how much drama the scene calls for—in the opening he can barely move dice to save his life, but later on he can levitate and fire guns with apparent ease. It is these kinds of strange pieces of story that persist throughout the film, as it feels wildly uneven and confusing. I wanted to enjoy the time I spent watching the film, but it was just such a cobbled mess that I couldn’t even really feel for the characters; presented with a scene in which the characters apparently were told a lie, I felt completely lost and when it was revealed that them being lied to was a lie, I simply muttered a “whatever” to myself and moved on.
And really it’s a shame that the story doesn’t match the visuals, as they’re really quite fantastic. The special effects even are admirable for the budget this film had and while our big action sequence was already shown off in the trailers, it’s still an admirably entertaining film for the most part. It’s generic as could be and feels more like a made-for-TV sequel to some other big budget sci-fi outing, but it’s still an enjoyable film just for the simple things.
Also a really surprising element to me was just how great the acting was in the film. Not only by the stars themselves, but even by the unknown talent of the Asian “bad guys” that I’d never seen before in films. They were genuinely intimidating and scary looking at times and never once did it feel overly hokey. In addition, I really have to hand it to Evans, Fanning, Hounsou, and Belle as they really just made for an enjoyable ensemble of heroes and villains; they played their role of mutant bad-ass in varying degrees really well…my only complaint is that we really didn’t get much exposition on who the characters were and despite being just nine minutes shy of two hours long, the film just never felt like it dwelled on one plot point long enough to have it be of any real significance.
The film also had a tendency to be a big edgier than its look-a-like (Jumper, for those not paying attention). There was a steady flow of profanity (even an F-bomb) that helped keep the film feeling like it really was trying to be a bit more adult; not that profanity signifies maturity, mind you, but it just helped the film a bit more “real” by not overdoing it with the cursing, but at the same time not having the characters talk like censored adults either. It was also particularly humorous to see Fanning play a drunk, even though that scene ultimately didn’t go anywhere either.
Overall the film presents a mutant filled world from the start, but it never explores and develops it enough to really become too invested in it. It feels like we’re only seen a very stylized piece of the puzzle watching this film and as fun as pomp and flash is, it just isn’t enough to make me really become too caught up in it all. A positively solid and exciting Rental to be sure, but thoughts of this film will leave your head as soon as it’s ejected from the player.
Summit brings Push to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with a foil reflective cardboard o-ring. I usually hate o-ring’s, but at least they spiced it up with a bigger image on the back cover, almost mimicking what New Line used to do with their slipcovers in terms of the cardboard cover not being a complete repeat of the paper insert underneath it. Inside the set, however, we get a very, very dull visual with zero inserts and a plain, blue/purpleish disc art with the films font printed on it. Yawn. Menu’s are at least fairly enticing to look at, but nothing incredibly exciting (and the number of chapters to flip through is a bit obnoxious too, as none of them are named and trying to find out where you left off by a single thumbnail alone is a bit difficult).
Video arrives in an AVC encoded 1080p effort and…damn, this film looks good. There’s a particular moment where there’s a close up of Hounsou’s sweaty face and the amount of detail on that massive eye zoom in was just incredibly impressive. The aforementioned visuals really just burst and pop off the screen as well…and for good reason as well, since the encode rate floated around 35-38mpbs, with it peaking in the 40’s a couple times that I checked it. The very impressive visual mix is accompanied by a potent DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, with plenty of subwoofer noise to accompany each of the films high-action sequences. Surround work wasn’t as prominent as I’d expected (don’t get me wrong—it was definitely there, just wasn’t making itself really all that noticed like the LFE output was), but still not a bad mix all around. Definitely a movie to watch loud, however; that’s really part of where the enjoyment comes from.
Extras are limited, but include a Audio Commentary with Director Paul McGuigan, Actors Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning that is a solid track, although a little too back-patty…but nice to have a director and actors on board for a commentary. A quick selection of Deleted Scenes (3:19, 1080p) is up next with optional commentary by McGuigan and finally a very brief “The Science Behind the Fiction” Featurette (9:17, 1080p) wraps up the extras.
As I said, the extras are limited, but the commentary is a nice inclusion; without it the extras would have been a total write off, but it’s worth a listen if you enjoyed the film, if only for the stories the actors and director tell about their time spent on the film.
Overall a decent effort by Summit and definitely some of the nicest visuals I’ve seen from a film in a long time…but ultimately this is just a Rental. Had the film fleshed out its story and specifics a bit more and dwelled on the characters relationships with one another a bit longer, it would’ve really been a solid sci-fi film…but as is it’s merely an acceptable way to spend an hour or two.
Push arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on July 7th.