Push (2009)

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, brief strong language, smoking and a scene of teen drinking.
Length: 111 minutes.
Grade: B+CCB=B
Budget: $38 million
Box Office: $59 million (32 U.S., 16 Intl., 11 DVD)

Written by: David Bourla (First major script)
Directed by: Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin, Wicker Park)
Starring: Chris Evans, Camilla Belle, Dakota Fanning, Djimon Houjnsou

The world is full of mutants (think X-Men) who live among us and operate in secrecy, some for good and some for evil. One group affiliated with the government has a formula for amplifying their powers, but it’s killing the subjects. Another group wants to stop them from developing it any further.

Entertainment Value: B+
Despite the surplus of mutant movies recently (Jumper, Wanted, X-Men, Hellboy, Watchmen, Incredible Hulk, Hancock, not to mention Heroes on TV) so many of them have been disappointing, at least the ones most like this one (Jumper and Wanted). So although I was excited to see this, I was concerned it would be yet another disappointment. But I really enjoyed this. My wife even made fun of me for being so engrossed in it, like a little kid. I don’t care. This is fun, fast, and a little weird. I must admit that plot has a zillion holes in it, but I didn’t care. I let it entertain me on its own terms, and it didn’t disappoint.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity B, Violence C-, Language C, Illegality C
PG-13 is right. There is some swearing throughout, there is implied sexuality, and one scene has a young girl getting drunk. The main issue here will be violence and overall creepiness of some scenes such as men with Banshee powers using their sonic voices to kill people by exploding their cranial blood vessels, a fair number of people are killed or threatened with guns.

Significant Content: C
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth from a lie someone has put in your head. Governments will always try to weaponize anything powerful. You have to be willing to risk death to stop bad people from succeeding. The good guys don’t always have the best chances, and they don’t always win. If you would pay closer attention, you would realize things all around us fit the existence of mutants like these.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
I was particularly impressed with the camera work here. The director seemed to constantly select unique vantage points which amplified the scenes quite a bit. Despite all the flaws (How can people sniff the future? How could Cassie’s mom have known so much when the future is always changing? Why can Nick have trouble with dice and then suddenly have perfect control of guns and bullets?), the art here is in bringing a mutant world to life believably. And I loved the idea of mutants coming in categories rather than having any power imaginable. The big thought issues here have to do with fate, free will, and the future.

Discussion Questions:
~Do you believe it’s possible for mutants like these to be real? Consider the categories of Watcher, Mover, Pusher, Stitch, Shifter, Sniffer, Bleeder, and Shadow. Which seem most plausible and which least? If they were real, would it change your perception of occupations like media, PR, magician, doctor, and psychiatrist? Given that we are all (to some degree) energy fields impacting each other, is it possible for objects to carry the residual effect of activities in their vicinity as Sniffers detect?
~If you could have any of these abilities, which would you most like to have? Which would you least like others to have?
~Do you think it’s possible that humans have special abilities, even if not quite to this degree? Do you think it would be good to try to investigate them as the Nazis, Russians, and we have done? Would you think of these things as being gifts from God or as being demonic or witchraft stuff?
~Have you ever wondered why so many people believe seemingly ridiculous things? Is it possible they’ve been pushed?
~What makes the good guys in this movie particularly good? Is opposition to bad guys enough to make you good?
~What do you think of the mutants who work for Division? Are they traitors for helping hunt and exploit their own kind? If mutants were real, would you want them running loose or under the control of the government?
~Does the idea of the future being the outworking of our intentions do anything to explain the Christian notion of God knowing the future while we have free will?
~Was it important to Dakota Fanning’s character to be dressed the way she was?
~Are there any memories which you wish you could eliminate? Are there any which are so important to you that, without them, you feel like you wouldn’t be you anymore?
Is it better to be predictable or to be spontaneous? What’s the relationship between strong character and predictability?
~Does someone else knowing your future diminish your free choice of it?
Overall Grade: B
I liked it better than a B indicates, but I can’t give it an A or even a B+ with a high degree of integrity. And given the surprisingly low Box Office, all I can say is, “I enjoyed it a lot, but I can’t promise you will.”

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