We've all heard the famous proverb: never judge a book by its cover. Well, the same holds true for movies and their trailers. One such film is 'Push' -- which resembles an intricately woven thrill ride in its compact two-minute version, but sadly in the long run the worst enemy of this sloppy production is the muddled and confusing storyline. In a nutshell, 'Push' is the perfect example of good concept -- bad form.
'Push' introduces a world where a handful of unique people are born with extraordinary psychic abilities. Movers like Nick Grant (Chris Evans) can manipulate objects telepathically, while watchers such as the young Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning) are able to see glimpses of the future. For decades, a classified government agency called Division has been rounding up and performing experiments on these gifted individuals in hopes of creating the ultimate weapon. Every test has failed and resulted in death thus far, until a mind-controlling pusher named Kira (Camilla Belle) survives the process and escapes the facility. While the Division's Agent Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou) and his team hunt Kira down, the paths of Cassie and Nick collide after one of Cassie's haunting visions foretells of a mysterious suitcase and both of their demises. Somehow Kira is the key, and the two rogue psychics must find her before Carver does in order to rewrite their fates and save their own lives.
David Bourla's screenplay starts out promising, even if it is treading on familiar territory. After all, the hunting down of super-powered beings has been a frequently revisited topic in comic books. However, whenever he tries to weave a new layer into the story, he clumsily pokes a few more holes in the plot until there's not much left by the time the end credits roll. Many of the problems arise when Nick comes up with the scheme to write a series of letters planning their next moves and then hires a wiper (a different type of psychic) to erase his memory to stay one step ahead of enemy watchers. I won't go into further detail so I don't spoil anything, but people show up out of nowhere and things happen for no reason without any explanation whatsoever. All of these inconsistencies create a domino effect resulting in so many loose ends that it eventually just doesn't make much sense. What's even more irritating--not to mention conflicting--is how both Nick and Cassie suddenly become masters of their abilities when the beforehand they're shown struggling with their talents. Seriously, did Bourla even bother to read his own script?
Part of the blame should fall on the shoulders of director of Paul McGuigan ('Lucky Number Slevin'), since he should have picked up on the plethora of problems riddling the screenplay and taken the necessary steps to ensure that everything in his head translated smoothly to the film. I'm sure he and Bourla know exactly how the secret letters arc went down, but it's not clear for the viewer. Also what is with the shaky cinematography periodically jerking upwards or sideways? Did the cameraman have muscle spasms or a bad case of the hiccups? If so, then maybe some of these scenes should have been redone so it didn't look like the work of an amateur testing out his first camcorder. Oh, and I can't forget his bizarre choices for music montages. There's one of Cassie and Nick walking, one of Cassie pacing back and forth, and a few others that don't do anything besides stretch out the movie. Here's an idea: how about a montage of Nick and Cassie honing their skills so when they become instant experts of their powers it wouldn't seem so awkward? Wouldn't that be a more productive way to patch up at least one of the gaping plot holes?
No, 'Push' isn't quite as messy as say 'Babylon A.D.' but the film does show signs of similar misguidance. The movie tries to be stylish, the effects aren't too bad, and the scenery on location in Hong Kong certainly is eye-catching, however 'Push' begins to unravel pretty quickly. Chalk this one up as another cinematic blunder that really could have, and should have, been better.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Summit Entertainment brings 'Push' to Blu-ray on a BD-50 dual-layered disc nestled inside a standard keepcase with a slipcover. The disc loads with three forced trailers for 'Knowing,' 'Astro Boy,' and 'The Brothers Bloom.' The ability to jump directly to the menu has been disabled which is kind of annoying, but the trailers can still be skipped individually using the remote. The U.S. Blu-ray of 'Push' is also region-locked and therefore will only function properly in Region A PlayStation 3 and standalone players.
Despite the film's shortcomings, Summit's 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (2.40:1 aspect ratio) encode is a visual delight in high-definition. One might even say that this encode can p-push it real good (hey, Salt n' Pepa were big when I was in junior high so I had to use it).
Except for anything Pixar-produced, 'Push' boasts one of the most colorful transfers I've seen in a long time. Practically every shade of the color spectrum is visible around the marketplace in Hong Kong, and even more visually stimulating are the vibrant neons of the metropolis' nightlife. Contrast is intentionally turned up just a bit, and black levels remain deep and inky throughout the entire movie. The picture retains a mild amount of grain for a consistent cinematic look, while flashback and vision sequences artistically tend to lay on the graininess much thicker. Strong dimensionality is present on the image and detailing is fantastic. The textures of clothing, skin, and especially the often grimy nature of the slums really make a striking statement on Blu-ray.
There really isn't all that much to complain about here, but there are a couple of instances when I noticed the odd speckle of dirt, and oddly enough there seems to be at least one case where the filmmakers apply the vision effect to a scene that isn't actually supposed to be a vision from what I could tell. Other than that, though, I'm very impressed with this transfer.
The Blu-ray also sports a lively lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that impresses just as much as the video.
Dialogue comes through crisp from the center channel and is balanced well with the rest of the soundtrack. The score by Neil Davidge is pretty generic stuff, but it often packs plenty of hard-driving bass and encompasses the entire soundstage nicely. The surrounds are also fairly active with a cascade of pleasing effects. The hustle n' bustle of the busy streets of Hong Kong sounds very realistic, and the fight scenes really shine with everything from shattering fish tanks to the vibrating pulses emitted from movers when utilizing their powers. If the audio (and visual) presentations don't contribute enough to save the movie--at least they make the effort.
The Blu-ray disc also includes a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack as well as optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
The Blu-ray comes with the same smattering of supplements found on the standard-definition DVD. The bonus features are in 1080p and have optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
When 'Push' comes to shove, unfortunately this sci-fi action flick just doesn't cut it. The potential was there for an entertaining super-powered thrill ride, but the movie is dragged down to the depths of banality thanks to one mess of a poorly crafted script. The Blu-ray does have very strong video and audio, however, although there isn't much here in terms of worthwhile supplements. As such, 'Push' is a rental at best.