Gort vs bad drawing: Is Push the self-contained Heroes movie we always wanted?

Commander's log, Stardate 18102013.2:

"Weeee!" echoed through the corridors of the Mothership in the early hours of a weekday morning. Investigating, I found Gort casually levitating Steve the Engineer around the ceiling of the Mothership's engine room.

"I found a way to give us all psychic powers," Gort explained.

"With these powers, we could be superheroes!" I exclaimed with barely suppressed glee. The others looked at me with horror and disdain.

"Dude," Steve berated, "no-one says superhero anymore. That's so 90s."


Before Joss Whedon proved that Spandex could still be cool, everyone was set on postmodernism. Ten years ago, Supers had to be X-men-style, angst-ridden anti-heroes who had very little interest in beating up muggers. They didn't wear costumes - at most, they could imply a cape by donning a Neo-style long coat - their morals were dubious and they had to be more interested in saving their own skin than saving the world.

"We're so hip"
Hence, we had Heroes, a TV show that mix-and-matched the powers of Marvel's finest with trendy New York types and put them at the mercy of an X-files conspiracy of Lost-like elusiveness. Despite its derivativeness, Heroes did an amazing job for one season. Of course, after the conclusion of series one, it devolved into increasingly ridiculous bilge and swiftly died. Seeing Heroes' brief popularity, studios rifled through their archives of rejected scripts and came up with Push - a movie about mutant psychics created by Soviet experiments evading sinister government departments while being hipsterish.

"Push has a cohesive mythology, a great cast, an unusual location and the pay-off almost makes up for the meandering plot"

We have the titular Pushers, who can implant memories in people's minds to compel them to perform certain tasks ("That guy killed the brother you don't have - get him!"); Movers are telekinetics and can block bullets with flashes of light; Watchers can draw the future to varying degrees of impressionism depending on what the plot requires; Sniffs can find people by touching and huffing things that person touched like a pervy bloodhound; Shifters can temporarily change small objects into other objects, paying for drinks with a sweet wrapper, for example; Wipers delete memories from people and have grubby fingernails; Stitches can heal people; Bleeders can scream really loud, for some reason; and poor old Shadows ended up with the pretty useless power of not being able to be found by Sniffs... for a while...

"I am not sweaty!"
Chris Evans is a Mover who doesn't practise very often, so is crap at it, sort of like the Expendables. He gets conned into helping Dakota Fanning, an alcoholic, 13-year-old Watcher trying to break her super-psychic mum out of a facility run by Djimon Hounsou from Gladiator's sinister government organisation. Alas, this plot thread goes no further as we get caught up trying to rescue Evans' sweaty-looking girlfriend who's stolen a psychic steroid from Hounsou and done a runner. What follows is essentially a heist movie with Evans and Fanning recruiting one of each of the psychics into Evans' Eleven and pulling a fast one on the evil Division.

"We go out and get drunk... No, really"
It's all a bit of a wasted opportunity as too much gets crammed into the film's intricate plot - especially when it doesn't end up making any sense anyway. The MacGuffin doesn't even get used, defeating its whole purpose, and far too much seems saved up for a sequel that never materialised. Nevertheless, the film conjures a cohesive mythology, has a great cast, an unusual location - particularly since parts were filmed without permission on the streets of Hong Kong - and the pay-off at the end almost makes up for the meandering way it gets to the point. It's a fun little movie that's still a hell of a lot better than the last three seasons of Heroes.

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