Pushed to the Edge
Release Date: February 06, 2009
Genre: Science Fiction/Spy Thriller
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 121 minutes
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writer: David Bourla
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In the story, governments around the world, including the United States, are forcing people born with psychic abilities, including telling the future, mind control and moving objects and people with their will, to work for them. The movie opens 10 years ago in a hotel, where a boy named Nick listens as a government agent kills his father in a room nearby. Before he dies, his father tells Nick that if ever a young girl comes to him with a flower in her hand, he should do what she asks.
Cut to an American facility in the near future, where the government is trying to enhance people’s psychic abilities by injecting them with a special drug. The drug usually kills the patient, but one woman has survived. With psychic help from another patient, the woman escapes.
Cut again to Hong King. Nick has now grown up and is in hiding from the American government. He tries to use his psychic ability to move people and things with his will to win some money gambling, but he can’t control his power sufficiently, so he loses money. A 13-year-old girl named Cassie (who looks younger) contacts him. Cassie is sometimes able to tell the future. She wants him to help her find the missing woman from the earlier sequence, who has a mysterious case with something inside that could help both Cassie and Nick in their fight against the American government. At first, Nick’s not convinced but later she shows up with a flower in her hand, the prophecy of his father coming back to him.
The problem is, the American agent who killed Nick’s father is also looking for the woman and the case. So are ruthless agents from the Chinese Communist government. Eventually, Nick finds out that the woman is Kira, a girl with mind control powers that he fell in love with in America.
PUSH plays more like a convoluted spy thriller rather than an action thriller. The first act of PUSH is confusing at times, and the second act is too slow. The movie picks up as the plot develops, but it may be too late for many viewers, especially those looking for the action that the movie’s trailers promise. Also, the movie gives viewers little reason to like Nick, Cassie and the friends who show up to help them, other than the fact that the American government is trying to exploit them, and even kill them if they refuse to play along.
The only thing that mitigates the movie’s negative portrayal of the American government is its portrayal of the Chinese government agents, who seem even more ruthless. The movie would be more acceptable to American audiences if there were some American agents in the story who do the right thing.
Also, while psychic abilities can be occult, the psychic abilities in this movie are put in a science fiction, humanist context that hints of evolution, not magic or witchcraft. That said, there are some humanist-type religions, including New Age groups, that try to capitalize on this idea of people physically developing psychic powers, usually through some kind of evolutionary process, or perhaps some kind of alien science and technology. While it is true that some people in this life have an advantage over others because they have the gift of gab or know how to invest in the stock market, the movie’s notion of psychic powers shows how people with these powers, including the so-called good guys, can use such power to take advantage and control of other people, and even exploit them. That includes the use of mind control.
There’s something essentially elitist about this notion, as pointed out by MOVIEGUIDE®’s analysis of the occult powers Harry Potter has in those books by J.K. Rowling. In fact, the word “push” in the movie’s title actually refers to the mind control powers used in the story where someone can make another person do something they don’t want to do, even something that’s dangerously against their will. This is morally distasteful, if not abhorrent.
PUSH also contains some strong foul language, light sexual references, some very strong violence, and a scene where Cassie shows up drunk. This content and the movie’s humanist worldview require at least extreme caution.
PUSH plays more like a convoluted spy thriller rather than an action thriller. The movie is confusing and too slow in the middle. Also, it gives viewers little reason to root for the good guys. While psychic abilities can be occult, the psychic abilities in this movie are put into a science fiction, humanist context that hints of evolution, not witchcraft. The movie also contains some strong foul language, light sexual references, some very strong violence, and a scene where Cassie shows up drunk.