Ten years ago, Nick Gant (Chris Evans) lost his father. He was only a boy, but the circumstances were all the more traumatic because they were on the run at the time from a shadowy government agency known as The Division. One of the last things his father said to him was to look out for the girl with the flower, which didn't make much sense to Nick, but he was too busy trying to escape to give it much thought till later. He was a second generation psychic, and people like him were being hunted down...
Is it overoptimistic to set up your movie with a sequel when the chances are it could flop? Such was the case here, as Push became one of those films which presented itself as the first chapter of a story only to see the public weren't that interested in a follow-up, leaving it as stranded as Doc Savage or Buckaroo Banzai. What could have been a straightforward X-Men style adventure wound up as a murky plod through some not very interesting scenarios, or at least not very interesting from the perspective of an audience wanting high octane entertainment.
The trouble was that this was so wrapped up in its own world that it made little advances in connecting with the viewer, which could either have them wish to make the effort and get lost in it all, or more likely turn them off completely as the characters footled about with little progress. Nick grows up and we catch up with him in Hong Kong, which was apparently director Paul McGuigan's attempt to court comparisons with wartime classic Casablanca, with its lively bunch of rogues and romantics, on this evidence wishful thinking at best. It may have supplied a novel setting for a Hollywood thriller, but in the process swamped the actors.
Those actors included Dakota Fanning as Cassie, who becomes Nick's teenage sidekick and like him has a special ability in that she can see into the future, except "sometimes I get it wrong", which makes you wonder what the point is when it's not even accurate. Indeed, by the end of the movie Cassie's predictions largely turn out to be wrong, or at least have not come to pass in this instalment, the possibility of her and Nick dying being what was most pressing, but never explained further. Then there's Kira (Camilla Belle), another runaway who has the power to change people's thoughts, though she's not the only one.
Nick, who can move objects with his mind, runs into so many of these psychics that it would be refreshing if he met someone who could not use such talents, but no, not with Division chief operative Carver (Djimon Hounsou) on his trail. After a while the impression you're getting is of a group of characters engaging in some kind of exclusive conversation making very few appeals to you as to understanding what they're so concerned with; couple that to some slangy dialogue that doesn't help any, and you're left anticipating the action scenes. Surely they will redeem the movie? Not particularly, as with every scene approached in the same fashion the whole thing transforms into one long drone, monotony setting in early on and failing to lift - even when there's a twist it's lost in the sludgy methods. By the end you'll have been moderately entertained, but not so much that you'll be mulling it over for years and wishing for that sequel. Music by Neil Davidge.