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A mind-bendingly cool, action-packed addition to the whole people-with-powers scenario.


For those who love the idea of people walking around with paranormal skills, Push is right on the money. Basically, the big, bad government strikes again -- this time in the form of a shadowy agency known as the Division. They have genetically transformed citizens into an army of psychic warriors, with tag names such as "Pushers," "Shifters" and "Sniffers," who brutally dispose those unwilling to participate in their reindeer games. Nick Grant (Chris Evans), a second-generation telekinetic or "Mover," is one such rebel, hiding out in Hong Kong. He meets the tough-as-nails Cassie (Dakota Fanning), a 13-year-old second-generation clairvoyant or "Watcher," also on the run, and through uncontrollable circumstances, reluctantly follows her on a quest to bring down the Division. Wanna know what a "Bleeder" does? It isn't pretty.


While the story weakens at points, it's saved by winning performances, especially from Fanning. This is her sort-of coming out film -- moving away from the childish and into more adult fare, cursin' and gettin' drunk in Push like a pro. This kind of teen wiseass role could have been played obnoxiously, but Fanning gives it depth and heart. Her longevity as a actress is quite evident. The charmingly good-looking Evans (Fantastic Four), too, makes the most of his reluctant hero, a guy with a bigger chip on his shoulder than he'd like to admit. Other standout turns include Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) as The Division's No. 1 badass, a top-notch Pusher who can put any old thought in your head, and Camilla Belle (10,000 B.C.) as Nick's part-time love interest who holds the key to the whole operation -- at one point, quite literally.


Director Paul McGuigan showed his mettle with the tightly wound thriller Lucky Number Slevin -- and continues the trend by crafting another slick actioner. What he does best is make Hong Kong a vital and integral part of Push. Shot entirely on location, the nooks and crannies of the city gives the film a very claustrophobic feel, while the stark, minimalistic environs enhances the sort of hopelessness of the situations playing out. One particular climactic battle on top of a glass roof is pretty cool. Any of the film's faults lie in the script, which seems to meander and feel forced at times, but ultimately, Push is just pure escapist fun.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 stars.