Film / Push

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/push_movie.jpg

For the 1996 novel of the same name that was made into the 2009 movie Precious, click here.

A 2009 movie about Nick (Chris Evans), a man who lives in perpetual fear of Division - a worldwide agency of major governments whose goal is to train and employ psychics for governmental use. Not content with their normal levels of power, the US branch of Division has been testing a drug to boost psychic abilities. Only one person, Kira (Camilla Belle), has been able to survive this drug, and she quickly escapes with a sample after the first test of the drug on her.

When a 13-year-old precognitive girl named Cassie (Dakota Fanning) tracks down Nick in Hong Kong and makes him an offer he can't refuse, the two team up to track down Kira and the stolen sample with the hope that finding it will help them bring down Division.

A short comic series was also created, but any further entries in the series are unlikely due to the movie's generally poor performance and reception. There was a television series in development being written by David Hayter at some point in 2010, but the lack of updates since then means it has fallen victim to Development Hell and is effectively cancelled.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Nick has shades of the morally bankrupt type. Our introduction to Nick is him trying to cheat at dice. And failing. He gets better as the movie goes on.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The movie has Nick inject soy sauce into his arm with no consequences.
  • Badass Family: The Chinese Triad we meet features a family consisting of a few Bleeders and a skilled Watcher.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Victor. Both he and Carver are very well dressed, and very good at their jobs.
  • Bald of Evil: Both Carver and Mac sport chrome domes.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Both Cassie and the Pop Girl are constantly trying to prove that they're the best chessmaster in the film. Little do they know that they're really just fighting for second place. The real chessmaster is Cassie's mom. See Gambit Roulette below.
    • Nick becomes one mid-movie, as he was the one who came up with the idea of using notes and mind-wipes. He also wrote all the notes, not showing them to anyone until the right time.
  • *Click* Hello: Pop Girl clicks off the safety right behind Cassie near the end.
  • Competence Zone: Averted. Competence and power are pretty well linked to age and experience, with the one exception of Kira, who is supercharged by the drug above everyone else.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The scene in the poster on this very page never happens.
    • Promotional images also seem to imply that a "push" involves telekinesis, when it actually revolves around implanting thoughts. Movers are the ones capable of moving objects with their mind.
  • Deadly Upgrade: The serum has killed every test subject, save Kira.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cassie is chock full of these, and Nick has his occasional moments.
    Cassie: (having just drawn a picture of her, Nick, and her mother, all dead) You better do something quick, 'cause I'm getting sick of drawing dead bodies.
  • Death by Irony: Carver, killed the very same way he killed Mac earlier in the movie.
  • Differently Powered Individual: See the Psychic Powers entry, below
  • The Dragon: Victor to Carver, Pop Girl to her father.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Triad Dad is distraught at the sight of his dead sons.
  • Evil Brit: The mercenary Stitch, as her accent gives it away.
  • Evil Counterpart: Victor to Nick, Pop Girl to Cassie, and Carver to Kira.
  • Fainting Seer: Cassie and her evil watcher counterpart have occasional flutters, but neither of them go full-on unconscious.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Subverted. Kira is originally Pushed into different loyalties most of the way through the movie, but a photo of her and Nick allows her to remember who she really is and where the lies are. Immediately afterwards, she kills Carver.
  • Fake Memories: Pushers create them, or alter existing ones to match.
  • Force and Finesse: Nick and Victor, respectively. While Nick is capable of extremely strong bursts of power, Victor has significantly more fine control and depth of using his powers, and completely outmatches Nick until he makes the incredibly poor decision to try and trade power-enhanced blows with him. Needless to say, in a close in fight of simply trading power blows, the brute force user (Nick) comes out on top.
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • The entire movie was one gigantic one by Cassie's mother to get the serum into the hands of her daughter. Cassie jokes that her mom must've been planning this since before Cassie was born. Chances are good that she's right.
    • Nick's letters are a sub-gambit of this one, and they're all improvised without any Watcher foresight, especially the one of he and Kira at Coney Island at the end. This is justified by them having dated for quite some time and Cassie's abilities.
  • Golden Thigh Ratio: Cassie's jailbait skirt is part of her look as a Little Miss Badass.
  • Gorn: Nick spends half of his screen time on his back writhing in pain.
  • Guns Akimbo: A favorite technique of the good guys, not that they ever get to use them.
  • Healing Hands: It's here, but it's quite painful, and can work in reverse.
  • Hime Cut: Pop Girl's got one.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Carver is killed in exactly the same way that he killed a character earlier in the movie.
    • Maybe the Division should have only used people whose abilities could actually be restrained for those lab experiments. A super-powerful Shifter or Watcher doesn't sound all that dangerous or difficult to imprison compared to someone with the power of Mind Control. The most powerful Watcher in the story spends the entire story off-screen in their possession (possibly due to her own plan, but still imprisoned).
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: At the end, where Carver wants to trade Kira for the drug.
  • Improvised Weapon: A wet floor sign by Kira, chairs and bamboo shoots by Victor.
  • Inspired by...: A mild case, as it turns out there actually was a government project for investigating psychics.
  • Instant Expert: Nick has been a Mover all his life, and he sucks at it at the beginning, barely able to cheat some dice. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that he's simply not practiced or refined with his power, but he is naturally talented - he tends to do fine with larger, more forceful movements than smaller, precise ones. He's consistently surprised when he does manage to do something powerful, and watching Victor at work gives him a lot of ideas that he successfully copies.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between Nick and Cassie. He's easily double her age, if not more.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Nick stays his hand and doesn't kill Victor, who is killed anyway three seconds later by a Bleeder.
    • Averted when Kira kills Carver in a fairly sadistic but fitting way.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Wipers can remove specific memories, which doubles as a way to throw off Watchers - if you don't know what you're doing, neither do they.
  • Lens Flare: Mover impacts sometimes have this effect, and two Movers squaring off create the equivalent of a small light show.
  • Little Miss Badass: Cassie. 13 years old and a fairly accomplished Watcher, she tracks down Nick by herself, is often an early warning system for being tracked, and is essential to the group's ending plan.
  • Living MacGuffin: Kira isn't the MacGuffin exactly, but she stole it, has it in her bloodstream, and is chased after by the villains as the only successful survivor of the super-psychic-serum.
  • Magic Skirt: Cassie. Necessary, because the character's all of 13.
  • Manipulative Bastard: All Pushers to a degree, with Kira being on the low end and Carver on the high. Being able to essentially control people's minds leads to a warped worldview.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Carver, with his expensive suits and private jet. Division pays well.
  • Master of Illusion: Hook, one of Nick's friends. It helps that he's a Shifter, and he uses his abilities to live the high life in casinos and nightclubs by shifting pieces of paper into high-currency bills.
  • Meaningful Echo: Carver's "What a waste" line, said after he killed Nick's father and after he thinks Nick killed himself.
  • Meaningful Name: Cassie is probably named after Cassandra, a prophetess from Greek mythology.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Nick, Cassie and friends vs the Chinese Triad vs Division
  • Memory Gambit- Tack on some Omniscient Morality License and you essentially have a non-traceable future, since Watchers work off of everyone's hypothetical plans and intentions.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Despite the relatively high total bodycount, shown female character deaths number exactly zero, though that number rises to one counting the deleted scenes. The two female villains 3 if you count Kira are menacingly threatening but they're stopped right before they cross the Moral Event Horizon:
    • Stowe, the Stitcher tries to kill/interrogate Nick, only for Nick to pull a gun on her and tie her up in his apartment. In a deleted scene, Pop Girl kills her for her failure.
    • Pop Girl finally tracks down Cassie and pulls a gun on her but the old man Wiper sneaks up behind her and erases her mind, which is either better or worse, depending on your viewpoint.
    • Pushed!Kira spends the final battle running, fleeing and using her power to push mooks into dropping their guns or coming to her defense, never directly killing anyone unless Carver tells her to, and when she is freed from Carver's push, she kills him after reading Nick's note telling her to.
  • Mind Rape: Remember that brother you don't have? Well, now you remember every moment of growing up together, and that your best friend/fellow Sniff brutally killed him. And even after you realize it's a push and that you killed the Sniff in revenge for nothing, the memories will still be there clear as day.
  • More Than Mind Control: Being Pushed is this, as it replaces or adds memories to the victim. It can be overcome or resisted under the right circumstances.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Division hunts down psychics to perform Super Soldier experiments on, or to draft into voluntary service. Any psychic they don't directly control, or who refuses to be recruited, Division agents either kill them outright or threaten them to not use their powers, and they employ Sniffs to track down any who disobey this edict. Many psychics live abroad in Hong Kong to keep as far away from the Sniffs as possible.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Cassie's drawings of the future.
  • Note to Self: Played straight twice with Kira and Nick.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Neither Djimon Hounsou (from Benin) nor Cliff Curtis (from New Zealand) even bothers to try to sound like Americans. Neil Jackson (England) drops in and out of it with the 2 or 3 lines he has. While Carver specifically says he's working for the U.S. Division near the end, their home countries are never specified so they could have been recruited before or after they became U.S. citizens or have picked up the accents elsewhere.
  • One Person, One Power: strictly observed - each person seen with powers in the film has only one kind, and no multiply powered people are said to exist.
  • Prophecy Twist: Cassie's drawing of a tiger clawing her to death: Pop Girl getting her memory eviscerated by the wiper with clawed hands in a room filled with cardboard boxes with the logo of a tiger.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Pushers can make you eat your gun.
    • Carver to one of his men who had just failed him (he pushes him to think the gun's empty though).
    • During the final battle, Carver pushes two mooks to shoot each-other while Kira commands two under her control to walk off the edge of a building.
    • Kira to Carver at the end of the film. Yay karma!
  • Psychic Powers: The basis of all powers in Push:
    • Pushers are able to use Mind Control. Really, it's More Than Mind Control, since it works by implanting and/or overwriting memories.
    • Wipers are able to erase all or parts of a person's memory.
    • Movers are telekinetics.
    • Shifters are Masters Of Illusion, allowing them to morph any object of their choice, though it seems the object does have to be of the same relative size of the object it's being shifted to, and it's temporary.
    • Bleeders Make Me Wanna Shout.
    • Stitchers have Healing Hands, albeit very painful, and capable of working in reverse.
    • Sniffers can see where any object has ever been and who's used it. They get their name from how their ability works: literally by sniffing the object in a form of Psychometry.
    • Watchers predict the future through reading the intentions of others, so the future they see isn't permanent (though it usually is). They can be countered by not knowing what you're going to do until right before you do it, and having your memories erased can stop them dead in their tracks.
    • Shadows can hide people by "shadowing" an object from them, allowing their subject to not be found. They are generally used to cancel out Sniffers. Extremely powerful ones can cancel out Watchers, though there's only one known occurrence of this.
    • A few other kinds are comic-exclusive, and venture well outside of the realm of what you'd expect from psychic powers:
  • Reed Richards Is Useless / Comes Great Responsibility: Inverted; in China, where Division has less of a hold, many psychics hold down occupations using their powers for profit (except the Shifter, who just carries a wallet full of money-shaped blank paper).
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: The Sniffs. They used a 10-year old toothbrush with a weak scent to track Nick across several countries before finding him in Hong Kong.
  • Scary Black Man: Carver. He's played by Djimon Honsou, what do you expect?
  • Screw Gun Safety:
    • Some would say that if you're a telekinetic who's not very good at it, you would take extra care to make sure that the pistols you are levitating are not pointed at you when you work the slide.
    • Justified in one case: Carver pushes a Sniffer into shooting himself because he convinces him that the gun isn't loaded, but since mind control is at work, flagrant disregard for gun safety is excused.
  • Screw Destiny: Cassie is trying to prevent the future she sees. The villains love You Can't Fight Fate since their watchers foresee a future in which the heroes all die.
  • Scry vs. Scry: Cassie versus Pop Girl.
  • Sequel Hook: Nick and Cassie defeat the Pop Gang and US Division agents, and they have the superdrug with them. Kira gets Carver to kill himself, meaning she's off scott free, likely to go meet up with Nick and Cassie. American Division wants to keep the drug, and the fact that it exists at all, away from rival Divisions of other countries. Cassie's plan is to trade the drug for Cassie's mom and take down Division. How they are going to do that isn't really known yet., and since the movie was not a commerical or critical success, we'll likely never know.
  • Shoot the Dog: The Chinese Triad leader killing Victor before Nick has to.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mind control being described as "pushing" someone was first used in Stephen King's Firestarter, although as the power works here it's more evocative of a drug dealer "pushing".
    • To The X-Files episode, "Pusher".
    • The marble scene in the beginning is taken almost directly from a part in Ted Dekker's book Blink, a book where the main character can see potential futures. When he's about to be arrested, he rolls a rubber ball down the hall, timing it so that it will bounce off the right walls, causing a distraction so he and his Love Interest can get away.
  • Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: of the "Prophecies as predictions based on people's intentions" variety.
  • Slo Mo: A dramatic walk down a hallway. Verges on Narm.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Nick kept a lid on his powers to evade detection by Division so he starts off a relatively unskilled Mover. Once he shook off the cobwebs, he began to develop more finesse; his encounters with the much-stronger and infinitely more badass Victor seem to boost his competency via Awesomeness by Analysis to the point that in their final battle, he's enough of a match to overpower Victor to nearly beat him to death.
  • Stylistic Suck: Cassie's drawings.
  • Super Human Trafficking
  • Super Serum: The MacGuffin of the plot; Division is testing it on psychics to enhance their powers. It's failed so far in every case, save one.
  • Super Soldier: Division's ultimate goal from their inception during WW II is to weaponize psychics into an unparalleled army.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Nick's powers (or perhaps his control of them) develop quite well over the course of the movie.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess:
    • Once Nick and Cassie realize how they can shut down Pop Girl, things change very quickly, especially when the letters come into play.
    • The entire movie is this, as it's basically a Mêlée à Trois between two Chessmasters and a Manipulative Bastard.
  • You Have Failed Me: Carver "pushes" one of his Sniffs to shoot himself for letting Kira escape and falling for Kira's push that caused him to kill his partner. Carver was willing to send the agent home until the agent insisted he was willing to bet his life that there was no way he can be "pushed" again. He may have also been genuinely worried that the guy had other implanted thoughts he didn't know about.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Push