Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 2:43PM
This movie is no good. I could take a screenplay like this and make it 5 times better in a very short period of time. Rather than waste a lot of my time explaining why, I think these bullet points will convey my disappointment.
- In classic western fashion the use of powers and characterization are completely uncreative and shallow. Instead of developing characters that have powers as extensions of their own problems and ambitions, the abilities are treated more like parlor tricks, gimcracks, and pocket tools. Would it have been so hard to make Nick, our main character, the type of guy who "pushes" people away when they get too close? At the beginning of the movie several lines were made commenting on Nick's lack of ability and practice, yet he suddenly becomes a master just by willing it apparently. No practice and no inner revelation trivializes the abilities making the film less relatable.
- I found it disappointing that with all the cool psychic powers, some fight scenes still boiled down to overly macho, fairly humdrum fist fights. Even Kira gets into a hand to hand altercation with one of her captors in the bathroom scene. Her ability to beat a grown man down is questionable. It would have been more believable and interesting if she used her push power on multiple people to create an escape.
- Speaking of fights, a lot of people die as a result of them. I expected as much from the over zealous Henry Carver, his henchmen, and the Asian mafia group. But even our protagonists were surprisingly cold blooded. Who knows of Henry's henchmen were under his "mind" control. Apparently it's a non issue for everyone in the film.
- The only thing easier than getting into a fight in Push is getting out of it. The writer(s) almost did a good job creating reasons for enemies to simply walk away from fights instead of delivering a killing blow. However, the strength of these escape scenarios is tied to the strength of the writing as a whole. If I'm barely with the plot, then even a decent escape scenario will be weakened somewhat.
- There are way too many characters that sneak up on each other in this film. I expect no less from a writer who simply doesn't understand action, realistic scenarios, or how to convey ideas through a character instead of making a character do the idea. Just like when the main enemy in Iron Man sneaked up on Tony Stark in his home, the believability, consistency, and creativity suddenly drops.
PLOT & SETTING
- The protagonists are terrible. Without morals or a scrap of a theme to make their plight more universal/relatable, I can hardly care about the unconvincing group of self-made, instant agents. Kira, the pusher girl, is quite a non character. Shrouded in mystery, her unknown past coupled with watchers predicting all kinds of things about her future makes Kira a tool of the bad plot instead of a character. Her romantic interests in Nick is a poorer relationship than the one from Jumper. Kira's excuse for shooting at Nick when they first meet in the film? He didn't find her when she was capture by a super powerful and secret organization. This reason is juvenile and apparently insignificant as they hook up shortly afterwards.
- Great writers can bring the world into a single room by crafting dialog and using characters to communicate the bigger picture without actually zooming out to see it. Bad writers not only use a lot of spaces, but all of the the spaces are trivialized while failing to build the "big picture" at all. Push was written by bad writers. Sure the Asian setting brought a fresh look and feel to the locations in a movie industry that's over saturated with California and New York. But this setting serves little purpose when looking unique is all that it's used for. The characters in the film go up town, down town, to the fish market, through the back streets, across the water, and in tall buildings as if traveling is easy. The same sensibilities that gave the writer(s) confidence to have young Cassie traveling around the world to find Nick is present through all aspects of the film. This is just one more aspect that hurts the film's believability.
- Intrigue and conspiracy isn't enough to sustain this movie. Because the characters are flat and the powers trivialized, the only thing left to keep me interested is the larger conspiracy plot. what kind of group does Henry really represent? Why did Cassie's mom, the greatest watcher in the world, get capture? Even these questions aren't enough. I doubt the big picture is even clear to the writers. And if it is, I dislike how I can't figure out what's going on because of the extreme lack of coherent details and information.
- The only thing I liked about Push are the basic ideas behind the "core mechanics" of the psychic powers. The thing that makes all mechanics really interesting from movies to video games is interplay. Interplay in this case broadly refers to the limitations of an ability and ways it can be countered.
- Movers can move things with their mind. This is a classic psychic power. Like the Force Push from Star Wars, one push can counter another. Distance and weight are key factors in whether or not a mover can move an object.
- Pushers can put memories directly in your mind. Direct eye contact is needed to create the mental link. Though it isn't very clear from the film, I think the power is limited to only adding memories.
- Watchers can see a version of the future. Cassie and her Asian counterpart sketch the future. The future can change and their sight can be blocked by Shadowers.
- Bleeders can scream creating super sonic waves that cause you to bleed from within. Their strength is limited by proximity (I think) and the direction they're facing.
- Stichers can heal or break someone with a touch.
- Shadowers can hide themselves and others from watchers. Their powers have a limited range that's centered on their person.
- Sniffers are like watchers but can track people by smelling the history of objects they've touched. They can be countered by burning, hiding, or not touching objects they can get their hands on.
It's as if the writers were designing a video game all along.