At its best, sci-fi is fascinating, like “2001: A Spacey Odyssey.” At its worst, it’s ridiculous, like “Battlefield Earth.” The psychic espionage thriller, “Push” falls somewhere in-between and should not be confused with the Sundance sensation: “Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.”
The prologue states that the U.S. government is continuing to perform those eugenics experiments started by the Nazis during W.W. II in order to create superior beings. There are different categories for these paranormals: “watchers” are clairvoyant, “movers” use telekinesis, “stitchers” heal any ailment, “pushers” influence the thoughts of others, “bleeders” scream so loud they burst people’s blood vessels, “shifters” change the appearance of things, “wipers” erase people’s memories, “sniffers” track anyone by utilizing their olfactory sense and “shadows” hide people from “sniffers,” concealing them from “watchers.”
But it seems a black-ops Division of the Defense Department is determined to enhance the usefulness of these mutant mindbenders with remarkable telepathic and clairvoyant abilities by administering mega-drug therapy. There are many fatalities in experiments such as this. But Kira (Camilla Belle) is a survivor, a promising “pusher” who has escaped into a clandestine Asian underground. She’s sought by her ex-boyfriend, a rogue, second-generation “mover” Nick Grant (Chris Evans) and a gifted 13 year-old “watcher,” Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), who is trying to free her mother from government custody. With ruthless “pusher” Agent Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou) in relentless pursuit, Nick and Cassie must find Kira and retrieve a powerful syringe filled with an “ability enhancer” hidden in a briefcase somewhere in crowded, neon-lit Hong Kong.
“Bring me every sniffer we have!” Carver demands in his determination to find the fugitive, and it’s hard not to giggle at his glowering intensity.
Screenwriter David Bourla and director Paul McGuigan (“Lucky Number Slevin”) are long on style and short on substance, not to mention logic. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Push” is a baffling, frenetic 5, defeated by its own chaotic cleverness.