Push (2009) movie poster

(2009) dir. Paul McGuigan
viewed: 07/16/09

In this day and age, subgenres beget subgenres to levels of potential minutae that really only make sense if we’re doing a biological categorization of movies.  I don’t really mean that it in a pejorative way.  Does it matter?

The only thing that would really matter would be originality, brought to bear on genre or non-genre film.  And as far as I can tell, Push isn’t based on a novel or a comic book or a video game.  While the source material may be originary, the whole of the concept isn’t particularly “out there”.  The concept is one that there are people out there with psychic powers (all kinds from precognition, telekinesis, healing powers, mind control, etc.) and they are being chased by some government group that wants to harness them for weaponry.  While Push creates its own nomenclature for each gang and gets a relatively engaging story and characters moving, it fails to really be anything new.

Like perhaps the television show Heroes or even last year’s Jumper (2008) and going back to Stephen King’s Firestarter (1984) and the book that film was adapted from.  Heck, if you get into it, the whole X-Men franchise is essentially the most robust of the concepts.

Push stars the 14 year-old Dakota Fanning, who is all big-head, skinny legs teenager, cute and gawky, with some interesting facial features.  Her character has charm, but isn’t wholly interesting.  Actually, none of the characters is as interesting as you would hope.  So much so, that the female adult heroine, played by Camilla Belle, isn’t interesting or likeable enough to care about.  And while villain Djimon Hounsou looks kinda dangerous and speaks with a somewhat creepy voice, we really don’t know shit about him or anything, enough to care beyond knowing he’s the bad guy.

I get this sensation every once in a while, when watching a science fiction film, that I yearn for a story that is less spelled-out, a narrative style that doesn’t try to make sure that the audience understands everything, something more experiential.  This film starts with an opening scene and then the title sequence has Fanning narrating the complex back-story about the psychics and their government history and persecution.  The classic “telling not showing” approach that is short-hand for too much information to try and spread out through the story.  The filmmakers just drop it on you and then go running.

Maybe I am imagining a narrative style that doesn’t exist or maybe I am not imagining it.  Are the films (for all their flaws) THX 1138 (1971) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) less clear narratives?  Or even Alphaville (1965).  My point is more about narrative clarity, an approach to disseminating story.  I don’t know that it improves quality, but it just makes it less about the complex, convoluted narrative, and much more experiential.

It’s just a thought.

One Reply to “Push”

  1. I thought it was heavily influenced by a William Gibson style story line, Neuromancer – but instead of a heady cyber-landscape, they were literally into my head … it is inner space – the mind, the collective-conciousness. Jung would have had a fieldday with the interconnectivity of the human condition.

    I liked Popgirl — the bad watcher who watched Cassie. She was kinda pulp fictiony and had a good eye candy appeal. The whole Hong Kong scenery was fantastic.

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