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Saturday, 1 June 2013

Push The Other One

'Push' is clunky from the get-go, weighed down by expositional dialog that sounds distinctly Matrix-y (in a bad way) in its tangential obscurity. The subject matter is hardly new, or even handled in a particularly innovative way, and although some of the effects are nicely done, it is not enough to redeem the whole. The plot is pedestrian to the point of boredom, disappointingly linear for a film that tries to be edgy and cutting edge. Everything happens the way it needs to in pursuit of the story, and the few character conflicts beyond the tired pursuit trope are unconvincing. The film suffers badly from the absence of real jeopardy, and none of the opposition carries any kind of real menace. Sure, there is plenty of chatter about the fact that they’re ‘all going to die’, but there is nothing to suggest any prospect of it actually coming close, and the constant references to this supposed danger render it meaningless.

This is yet another example of the current trend for style over substance. Witness the closing of a bathroom door when two people are inside even though there is no-one else in the apartment, it can be for no other reason than an attempt at stylish flourish, but the effect is to shut out the viewer, breaking the 4th wall and bringing the audience out of the moment. And yet where there are opportunities to make an impact (for example a fleeting touch on the subject of underage drinking), the film shies away from these, eschewing any real edge, no doubt in pursuit of its ‘12A’ certificate. Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning have both done much better work, and there a sense of lack of belief in the material, and not just in front of the lens. No-one seems to be breaking sweat here.

The sparseness of the soundtrack is effective in places, but horribly shattered by the clumsy introduction of ‘mood music’ in a music video style, instructing the viewer how to feel, just another example of the employment of these crude techniques to reel in the younger audience, which has been pummelled with such ham-fisted lifestyle marketing from before it exited the womb.

For me the only significant credit here goes to the location scout. China appears as a bright and colourful place, the locations unfamiliar and exciting, and it is really only when these exotic urban exteriors are in frame that there is any sense of dynamism. Moral? Rent a DVD from the China National Tourist Office instead.

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