Saturday, February 7, 2009

One PUSH can change everything

Director: Paul McGuigan
Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Cliff Curtis and Camilla Belle

I will start out by saying, this movie wasn't at all what I was expecting, going by the trailer. So throw your preconceived notions out the window before seeing it.

I like to compare movies with other movies after seeing them, to give people an idea of what to expect. To me this film was like a cross between The Matrix, Oceans 11 and the X-men.

I am a firm believer that there are people on this earth with "abilities" that are beyond the abilities of the average human being. That is what this movie is about.

For all of the comic nerds out there (who I am not ashamed to say I wish i was) this movie is from a comic book and carries over to the movie quite well. The abilities and powers are explained in the beginning of the movie. Its done very quickly with flash backs, quick edits and electronic music - obviously made to get your heart beating faster.

Here are the different types of abilities that are in the film, along with the actors playing them.

PUSHERS: Characters Kira Hudson and Agent Henry Carver (Camilla Belle from Practical Magic and Jonas Bro videos and Djimon Houndsou from Amistad) play the movies main Pushers. Camilla is brilliant as her character changes as she pushes. First she is soft, coy, but frightened and confused, but in a blink of an eye, she can pull out a story, with assertiveness and manipulation of her voice and push it into someones head to try to save herself. Djimon's character is "The Man" everyone is trying to get away from because he is trying to control all the people with powers - he does a great job of using his powers to make GIGANTIC stories and lives literally change in an instant. His powers are bigger than you realize at first. If I could have any abilities, it would be this one - very manipulative how they portray it on the screen - and when they are "pushing" someone, their eyes go solid black. They are potentially the most dangerous of all agents, these individuals can "push" specific thoughts, memories and even emotions into their targets. This technique can be used to gain a subject's trust, or have them perform any action, thinking it was their own agenda. These transplanted thoughts can last a few hours, days or even years. Experienced pushers have a trademark "back story" that they have honed over the years, to quickly inject large amounts of information into their targets. Division (gov organization in charge of these people, or would LIKE to be) trains all its agents to defend themselves against pushers, but the technique has proven largely ineffective in the field.

SHIFTERS: Character "Hook" Waters (played by New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis of Whale Rider fame) plays the movies shifter. I love this actor and he does a great job of being the "big bro that's been there" role, and helps the group with things they need along their journey. These individuals can temporarily shift patterns of light on any object to create illusions to the naked eye. They work mostly on a touch basis, but once the illusion is established, it remains with the object for short periods of time. For example, a Shifter could momentarily touch a one dollar bill, altering its light pattern to appear as a one hundred dollar hill for hours until the effect expires. The length of the shift is based on experience and ability.

MOVERS: Nick Gant (played by Chris Evans of Fantastic Four fame). Because he is "second gen" mover, his abilities are rusty and he works on them throughout the movie. Movers can manipulate inanimate objects at varying distances. The actual technique is known as kinetic signature control, where the mover is trained to hear and identify the specific atomic frequency of any given material, and alter the gravity wave around it, usually producing the nearby air to appear "warped". Advanced movers can work at a molecular level creating protective shields in the air around them.

SHADOWS: "Pinky" Stein (played by Nate Mooney of Sunny in Philly fame) plays the main Shadow. Shadows are trained to block the vision of other clairvoyants such as Sniffs, making any subject within their target radius appear "dark". Experience will enhance the size of the area they can shadow and the intensity of their shielding effect. Shadows need to be awake to perform their ability, and it is common for a details of two Shadows to operate in shifts while protecting a person or object for extended periods.

Cassie Holmes (excellently played by Dakota Fanning)and "pop girl" (The enemy watcher wonderfully played by actress Lu Lu). Dakota does a wonderful job playing this cocky, loner kid who's learned about her powers as she goes. Her adversary just known as "The Pop girl" is always sporting a lolly pop and notebook, and constantly teasing and threatening Dakota's character with her sight of her future death. These rare and mysterious agents are trained to self-induce visions of the future, very much like a prolonged sense of deja vu. The technique of following the future, either of a person or object, is called subject tracking. A Watcher's skill is primarily rated by how far they can see into the future. The Temporal Alteration Phenomenon (TAP) was the term given to unforeseen changes and disturbances that cause a future prediction to lose its integrity. Some say that even talking about the future can create enough TAP to change it.

WIPERS: Wo Chiang(eerily played by Biu Law Che)is the lone Wiper in the film. With his river front fisherman's warf-like working space, we see him early on the film, but don't realize what he does until later in the film. Wipers are skilled at either temporary or permanent memory erasure, an invaluable asset in espionage. Experience will dictate the accuracy of their wipes, though the danger is always present that they will eliminate a desired memory.

Bleeders: These were by far the most frightening characters of the film. Known just as Pop Boy 1 and 2 - they literally BLEED you to death. Graphically they become so scary as they exhort their powers - their eyes "POP" out and become CAT like, and their mouths grow gigantic. At times the screaming attacks made me laugh because they almost came off as in a B movie. Unique to Chinese government psychic abilities, Bleeders are trained solely for assassination purposes. They have the ability to emit high-pitched sonic vibrations that cause ruptures in a target's blood vessels. In recent years, synthetic materials have been surgically implanted in their eyes to slide upwards and protect the delicate ocular tissue that would otherwise be damaged by their own sonic vibrations. Before the implants were perfected, reports of a Bleeders eyes popping out during an attack were common, earning the nickname "Popboys".

Stitcher: Teresa Stow (played by Maggie Siff) played the Stitch. She appeared as a person from Cassie (Dakota's) past. You could not tell if she was bad or good, at any point of the movie, because stitchers go back and forth. She arrived to "heal" Nick at one point, but them turned on him later. Stitches are psychic surgeons trained to quickly reconstruct cells to their previous or healthy state. Using only their hands, they can heal and even "unheal" whatever they have done. For more detailed work, Stitches use a silver based cream on their hands which acts as a conductor to their ability.

And Lastly...

SNIFFS: Emily Hu (played by Ming-Na of ER fame) plays the Sniff forced to help the group trying to prevail over the Agents. I love this actress and she does a great job of playing the forced assistant. Her powers are strong and amazing and she has created her own business to use them to help the average citizen, which sometimes seem like shady deals. Sniffs are highly developed clairvoyants who can track the location of either people or objects over varying distances. Like psychic bloodhounds, their tracking ability is increased if they have tactile access to an object that has been in direct contact with the subject. Sniffs receive information based on images, not specific addresses, which is why unidentifiable landmarks help increase their effectiveness. Sniffs prefer to track their targets with personal items like toothbrushes as these items tend to keep "psychic residue" for great lengths of time.

The reason I toke the time to give you all of that information, is that I think I would have enjoyed the music more if I was CLEAR on all of the abilities and names of the abilities. I am such a nerd for these types of movies as of late, that i found it not only entertaining, but something I wanted to investigate further after the movie.

I would say the only problems with the movie were the speed at which the audience was expected to keep along. Like I said, if you are into movies with intricate maze-like conclusions - this is your kind of movie. But if you are easily lost and need your hand held and things explained - go see something a little easier.

Rating: *** 1/2* Great movie, would see it again!


  1. I saw it last night, it was enjoyable. The soundtrack was pretty decent (listed here:, they used one of my all time favorite songs, Consequence by The Notwist.

  2. Excellent review. And that's an understatement!