Pusher, Mover, Watcher, Sniffer, Bleeder, Shifter, beggar man, thief ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pusher, Mover, Watcher, Sniffer, Bleeder, Shifter, beggar man, thief

My rating:

I guess this movie can't help looking like a B-grader. It's very much a comicbook movie - it's a flashy, fantastical film about folks running around with superpowers - but it isn't based on any established comic character or property. This alone means it'll be overlooked and disregarded by most moviegoers in favour of something like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I only watched it myself because of positive reviews I've read on some of my favourite sites.

It's better than Wolverine. Seriously.

In the world of Push, there are people with secret superhuman abilities: Movers (telekinetics), Watchers (people who can see the future), Pushers (people who can plant thoughts and even memories into others), Sniffers (people who can track where an object has been and who has touched it), and many more. Nick is a Mover who has been hiding out in Hong Kong from Division, the government agency that deals with superpowers - until one day, a young Watcher named Cassie involves him in a plot to rescue a girl who has stolen something valuable from division. They are alternately pursued by a superpowered Triad gang with a Watcher of their own, and Division agents lied by Carver, a powerful and ruthless Pusher with whom Nick has a history.

Unlike Heroes and X-Men, which is most likely what this movie will be accused of ripping off, Push has superpowers that aren't meant to just be flashy or used for SFX-heavy fight scenes. Ablilities like those possessed by Watchers and Sniffers are used to build the plot and create complications that the characters must resolve, using the very same abilities that they have at their disposal. The girl that Nick and Cassie are looking for is Kira, a Pusher (and old flame of Nick's), and soon they are joined by a few others who all get to use their superpowers in intelligent ways.

Of course, "intelligent" here is relative. It's certainly smarter than Wolverine, in which the superheroes only use their powers when a fight breaks out. What this movie attempts to do is develop incredibly complicated plans that employ each superpower at exact circumstances and times, especially the gambit devised by Nick halfway into the movie to beat both the Triads and Division. And since there's Pushing and Watching and Wiping - the ability to erase memories - involved, there are ample opportunities for characters to deceive each other as well as the audience, leading to scenes where what we've previously been told is revealed to be false (or is it?). It's a lot of fun to watch...

...thing is, it doesn't all quite hang together. There are holes in the plot that I could see right through even as I was watching, and some of the "it was part of the plan all along!" scenes don't work as well as they should, because the revealed "plan" just isn't made very clear. And occasionally the characters get stupid - at one point, the bad guys handcuff Nick and lock him in a car boot, somehow forgetting that he's a Mover and that handcuffs are no obstacle to him. (Although he did need help getting out of the boot.) Poor plotting was the same criticism I had of Angels and Demons, so why did I like this one better than that movie?

Well, because the characters were more likeable, for one. Not much better-developed - Nick's thing about how Carver killed his father is as old as dirt, and his relationship with Kira is tissue-thin - but the actors, Chris Evans in particular, invest as much personality and charm into their sketchy characters as they're capable of. Cassie is alternately tough, world-weary, precocious, frightened and brave - Dakota Fanning is scary good in the role, especially in one LOLtastic scene where she gets drunk. There's a palpable sense of danger; the villains are suitably menacing, and the heroes' straits suitably dire. None of this is particularly remarkable here, of course - except to highlight the fact that, when absent, what you get is Angels and Demons.

While it ends with reasonable satisfaction, it's clearly meant to be the first part of an ongoing story - Hollywood almost never makes one-off films these days, everything's gotta be a franchise. This is one I don't mind following. The world that we're taken into in Push is developed well enough that we can sense the wealth of stories yet to be told, and if they're told as wittily and cleverly as this one, I'm certainly along for the ride. Prospects for a continuation of the franchise don't seem too good though - U.S. boxoffice takings haven't been encouraging, and Malaysian moviegoers aren't going to make much of a difference. Still, I'll say it again - it's better than Wolverine, and much more deserving of your time and money.

Anticipation level: fingers crossed


Anonymous said...

They should make another movie called Watch or Move to continue the plot because it leaves you hanging...

Poklah Sc said...

I really loved this movie, much of it perhaps caused by the Hong Kong background, the raw & unpolished looks of this movie and err...the LOLitastic Ms Fanning wohoo...