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Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/7/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/6/2009; Updated 4/13/2018
I don't know if you would label me as the typical male, but like many men, I do like action movies. And being a fan of action films, I hate that they get such a bum-rap and are often referred to as being "mindless" or "brain dead". In my opinion, a majority of action movies contain very creative central ideas, much more creative than most dramas. (Couple deals with divorce, couple deals with grief, etc. How creative...) There are plenty of intelligent action films out there and it's time that they were shown respect. Having said that, I hate to have to criticize a genre film for being "overwritten", but that's the case with Push, a sci-fi/action movie with way too much plot.
As Push opens, we learn that the Nazis experimented with genetics during World War II and the result was the creation of humans with super powers. The U.S. government, through a branch known simply as "Division", attempts to control these individuals and use them as weapons. Nick (Chris Evans) is a young man who lives in Hong Kong. His father was killed by Division agents and Nick has spent his life on the run. Nick is a "Mover", which means that he can move objects with his mind. However, Nick doesn't use his powers very often and he's a bit rusty. Nick is visited by a girl named Cassie (Dakota Fanning), who is a "Watcher" (she can see the future). Cassie explains that she and Nick must find a woman is in Hong Kong and who is being pursued by Division. If they can save this woman, they will be rich. Nick doesn't trust Cassie, but decides to go along with her story. When the two are attacked by "Bleeders" (people whose high-pitched screams can burst blood vessels), Nick decides to believe Cassie. They learn that they are looking for Kira (Camilla Belle), a "Pusher" who can influence others. Kira holds a secret which could bring down Division. She is also being pursued by Division agent Carver (Djimon Hounsou) and a Chinese gang.
If you think that synopsis sounds somewhat complicated, then wait until you see the movie. I didn't even begin to scratch the surface. There are five more kinds of super-powered beings which I didn't mention and several more characters. And thus, we have the main problem with Push -- even at a running time of nearly two hours, it simply tries to shove in too much story. The movie contains enough plot for at least three movies and perhaps an entire season of a TV series. I really wanted to like this movie, but the fact that a new character, power, or subplot was introduced with every scene became almost comical as the film proceeded.
But, if you go in knowing that the movie has a headache inducing story and number of characters, there is still plenty to admire in Push. On the whole, the story isn't very original, as it plays like many other superhero tales. (You may be surprised, and somewhat relieved, to learn that Push is based on an original screenplay and wasn't spawned from a comic book.) The collection of characters with super-powers isn't much different from what we would see in an X-Men film or onHeroes. The difference here is that Push is far grittier than either of those franchises. Saying that the movie takes a real-world approach to the subject matter would probably be stretching it a bit, but there's no denying that this has more of an edge than other superhero movies. There's no costumes, there's no hype or fame -- it's merely a group of people fighting for their lives. This helps to add a much needed emotional quality to the movie.
This is also a good looking film. Director Paul McGuigan set a standard for outrageous wallpaper with his filmLucky Number Slevin, and that trademark is carried over here as Push features the kind of production design which is rarely seen in films like this. From Nick's apartment to the various hotel rooms seen in the film, each wall is covered with something eye-catching. There is also a nice use of primary colors in some scenes, especially that all green coffee shop. The action scenes are very well-done, most notably the finale and the first attack by the Bleeders. (Those poor fish.) McGuigan uses a mixture of quick-cuts and live effects to create a very frenetic style.
Push is a true toss-up. I went in not knowing what to expect, save for the fact that I like most of the cast members. What I found was a film which wanted to put a new spin on the very tired superhero genre, and there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that it kept putting a new spin on that new spin, until the entire thing spun out of control. You'll feel as beat up as the characters in the movie by the ending, as you will have been pummeled with plot twists and characters aplenty. Kudos to Push for not being the typical origin superhero movie which sets everything up for the second film, but giving us the whole kitten-kaboodle at once wasn't such a great idea either.
Push wears an oddly sparkly outfit during the finale on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Summit Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only some mild grain in some of the exterior scenes. (This is most likely due to the guerilla filmmaking style using only handheld cameras.) There are no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the above-mentioned primary tones. The image is never overly dark or bright. The detail level is good, as is the depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.3 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are notably good and show a nice level of stereo separation. The surround sound effects are excellent, especially during the action scenes. These effects are nearly constant during the second half of the film. The subwoofer effects during the scenes are very good as well. Overall, a nice transfer.
The Push Blu-ray Disc contains only three extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Paul McGuigan, Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning. This is a fairly good commentary, as the speakers spend a great deal of time describing what it was like filming in Hong Kong and shooting in crowded city streets. McGuigan and Evans do most of the talking, with Fanning chiming in here and there. The Disc offers four DELETED SCENES which run about 3 minutes and can be viewed with commentary by McGuigan. All four are brief and only one contains truly new material while the others simply have incidental moments added to scenes from the finished film. "The Science Behind the Fiction" (9 minutes) contains comments from McGuigan and a retired military official who discuss the reality of experiments and studies which explored special powers in humans.
On April 10, 2018, Lionsgate brought Push to 4K UHD. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 55 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably blues and reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture shows a very nice amount of depth and the level of detail is excellent. There is simply an overall crispness to the image which gives it an edge over the Blu-ray Disc from nine years ago. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio shows a very nice usage of specifically placed stereo and surround effects, which do a nice job of centering the viewer in the action. The subwoofer sounds good as well, although there was a little less bass in some of the action scenes than I would have expected. But, overall, this is an improvement over the Blu-ray Disc.
The extra features on the Push 4K UHD are the same as those found on the Blu-ray Disc, save for one new addition. "Push: Breaking Down the 9 Types of Psychics" (2 minutes) examines the 9 different types of abilities shown in the film.
Review Copyright 2009/2018 by Mike Long