Push

A Review by Jason L. King

Starring: Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans, Camilla Belle, Dijimon Hounsou
Directed by:Paul McGuigan
Rated: PG-13
Movie Released: 2009
IMDB Link

Final Grade:

It wasn’t but a few odd years ago that you could throw a stone in any direction in Hollywood and have it hit a person that was involved in a Dakota Fanning project. But like Mac and Haley Joel Osment, Dakota Fanning has now hit that awkward stage of childhood acting. The next few years will be her make it or break it moments in Hollywood. Film roles are sparser now for the child actress, having now been replaced by Abagail Breslin in almost every role she would have previously played. So, I guess I wasn’t too surprised when I saw Fanning starring in a stranger, low budget sci-fi film called Push.

Morbid curiousity lead me to checking out this flick. The film focuses around a pair of young Americans that have special powers (telekenisis, mind reading, abilities to see the future etc.) who are on the run from a strange group of government agents known as Division. These young adults are both 2nd generation powers, meaning they inherited their gift from their parents. Pursued by Division and another group with similar powers and the same goals in mind, they must find a girl in Hong Kong that may be the key to Division controlling thier powers forever.

This film has a lot of potential to be a great film. The problem is, it isn’t pulled off. The director jumps frantically around from scene to scene, introducing chracters that are briefly explained (if at all) and keeps you constantly trying to play catch up on what is going on. A script that is equally as disjointed doesn’t help, giving us a very typical, bland plot filled with questions and plot holes that really aren’t every fully answered.

As far as acting is concerned, things went awry in this department as well. Our main character, Nick, played by Chris Evans who is probably best known as the human torch in the Fantastic Four movies, stumbles his way through this film in a near emotionless style. Because of this, as a viewer you have a very had time connecting with the character. You know that you are supposed to cheer him on, after all he is the underdog. The problem is he brings no charisma to the character and makes his scenes seem very stale. I remember similar performances in Fantastic Four- so maybe that’s just his style, but it just wasn’t working for me. Acting alongside him is Camilla Belle, playing “the special girl” they must find and protect from Division. Much like Evan’s acting work, Belle actually takes awful to a new level. She reads her lines like a depressed puppy dog, hoping that there might be a meaty treat for her if she reads all of her lines correctly. Read them and go through the motions she does do, but as far as acting goes, I’ve seen more convincing acting in a local church’s annual children’s nativity story re-creation.

Another thing that surprised me was Djimon Hounsou, who seems out of place in this film. This actor is a recognizable face and has been nominated for two Oscars and it seems odd to have him in this film. Watching this film is kind of like playing the old game, Which of these things doesn’t belong? You look at Hounsou and immediately say, “What is he doing here?” On the flip side, if you look at Hounsou’s filmography, he jumps from serious roles like Blood Diamond to films like Push and Never Back Down, so he isn’t afraid to try new and different things. The problem here is like all the other actors, he isn’t given much to work with and his screen time is so limited he seems “too good” for the film.

Where this film does go right is Dakota Fanning. The young actress despite all the bad vibes surrounding her, pulls off a very decent performance in the film and creates perhaps the most lovable, cared about character in the film. As a young “watcher” her character is able to see into the future and can sketch out details on a small notepad. Her abilities however are still being honed, so she does have the unfortunate problem of getting a few things wrong. Despite now being in that awkward teenage stage, Fanning continues to show that she has what it takes to be an actress in Hollywood. If this is truly what she wants to do in her life, I have no doubt that Fanning will continue to do very well in her career. She’s already locked away a part in Summit’s Twilight Saga and I’m sure she will continue to gain more exposure as Eclipse is finally released in theaters. Even though the young actress probably doesn’t need the push of Eclipse to push her career forward, it certainly will help continue to propel her in the right direction.

Despite a fun performance by Fanning, Push doesn’t have much going for it. I’d simply skip this one if I had the choice again. The only reason I am glad I saw it was for Fanning, and so I could share with you all the reasons you shouldn’t make Push your next movie night selection!

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