Push (2009 film)

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For the 2009 film directed by Lee Daniels previously titled Push, see Precious (film).
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul McGuigan
Produced by
Written by David Bourla
Narrated by Dakota Fanning
Music by Neil Davidge
Cinematography Peter Sova
Edited by Nicolas Trembasiewicz
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Release dates
  • February 6, 2009 (2009-02-06)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $38 million[2]
Box office $48.9 million[2]

Push is a 2009 American science fiction thriller film directed by Paul McGuigan and written by David Bourla. Starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, and Djimon Hounsou, the film centers on a group of people born with various superhuman abilities who band together in order to take down a government agency that is using a dangerous drug to enhance their powers in hopes of creating an army of super soldiers.


An organization within the United States government called the Division has been secretly hunting down and experimenting on people with psychic abilities since 1945. Two "Movers", Nick Gant (Colin Ford) and his father Jonah (Joel Gretsch), are running from Agent Carver (Djimon Hounsou), a Division "Pusher". Jonah tells Nick of a vision he received from a "Watcher" about a young girl he must help in the future in order to take down Division. Jonah helps Nick escape as Carver arrives and kills Jonah.

Ten years later, Nick (Chris Evans) is hiding in Hong Kong, as an expatriate. Meanwhile, Carver tests a power boosting drug that has killed all previous test subjects on a Pusher named Kira (Camilla Belle). Rendering her doctor unconscious, Kira steals an augmentation drug-filled syringe before escaping. A young girl, Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), arrives at Nick's apartment, explaining that she is a Watcher and that they are going to find a mysterious case that will help them take down the Division. The case is also sought by the Pop Family, psychic Triads composed of Pop Father (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) and his two sons (Kwan Fung Chi and Jacky Heung) who are "Bleeders", and his daughter Pop Girl (Xiao Lu Li), who is a Watcher like Cassie.

Following Cassie's predictions, they go to a nightclub to meet Nick's friend Hook (Cliff Curtis), who is a "Shifter". He tells them to go to a "Sniff" named Emily (Ming-Na Wen), one of many Sniffs Carver and his right hand Mover, Victor (Neil Jackson), are trying to enlist to find Kira. With Emily's help, Nick finds Kira; the two had a romantic relationship prior to Kira's capture by Division. Kira hid the syringe inside the case, then had a "Wiper" erase her memories to keep the Division Watchers off her trail. Nick recruits a "Shadow" named Pinky (Nate Mooney) to "shade" Kira from psychic detection. Cassie finds a key in Kira's shoe to a locker in a construction building that is shaded by a powerful Shadow, indicating Kira hid the case there.

Nick devises a complex plan by giving his allies instructions in envelopes to open at specific times, while having a Wiper erase his memories of the grand plot to obstruct the Watchers' efforts to discern the entire plan. Meanwhile, Hook retrieves the case and creates a duplicate to match the real case with the syringe. As part of the plan, Kira surrenders herself to Carver, who introduces himself to Kira as a friend. Pushing his thoughts into her, Carver convinces Kira that she is actually a Division agent who volunteered to take the augmentation injection and suffered amnesia as a side effect.

Pop Girl hunts Cassie and corners her at a secluded spot but The Wiper appears at the right moment to dispatch Pop Girl with a massive memory wipe. Nick meets with Carver, Victor and Kira to trade the drug for Kira's freedom but Kira tells him their past relationship when Nick revealed his love at Coney Island was a false memory she pushed into his mind. The three force Nick to take them to the construction site that contains the locker holding the case, where the Triads lie in wait to ambush them. Victor kills several Triads before Pop Bleeder unleashes a powerful scream that kills Victor but also kills Pop Bleeder in a wave of collapsing debris.

Nick surprises Carver and grabs the syringe from him. Unable to convince Kira that their relationship was real, Nick jams the syringe into his arm, apparently killing himself. After Carver and Kira leave Nick for dead, he wakes up. Cassie appears and retrieves the true case with the syringe, revealing that Nick took the duplicated case and injected himself with soy sauce. Cassie plans to exchange the syringe to Division for releasing Cassie's mother, a powerful Watcher who foretold her vision to Nick's father and set the preceding events in motion even before Cassie's birth to ensure her and Nick's eventual success.

Flying back to America with Carver, Kira opens her purse and finds the envelope from Nick. Inside is photograph of Nick and herself together at Coney Island with a message: "KILL HIM. See U soon - Nick." Kira pushes Carver to put his gun in his mouth and fire; the screen fades to black and a single gunshot is heard.


  • Chris Evans as Nick Gant, a Mover living in Hong Kong in order to stay hidden from Division, whose father was killed by Carver. He was born in America and once had a relationship with Kira. Nick uses his ability to control dice, in order to affect betting games, as a source of income; although not always successfully.
  • Dakota Fanning as Cassie Holmes, the daughter of the greatest Watcher the Division has ever encountered, and a Watcher in her own right. Like all abilities, hers is not fully developed as this happens through training. She is sometimes confused by what she draws in her premonitions.
    • Cassie's mother Sarah Frank is uncredited; a powerful Watcher who was captured by the Division to prevent her use of powers against them. It is through her that most of the events occur as she helped Kira escape Division HQ, paid Wo to erase Kira's memories, as well as get Teresa in the right place to heal Nick, and told Nick's father to tell his son to follow the one who gave him a flower. This alone shows the strength of her Watcher abilities, as she saw this all happen at least a decade ago where most can only see a few hours or days into the future.
Camilla Belle at the film's premiere
  • Camilla Belle as Kira Hudson/Hollis, a high-level Pusher, a recent escapee of the Division, and the only Division patient to have survived experimentation.
  • Djimon Hounsou as Agent Henry Carver, a Division agent and a powerful Pusher who killed Nick's father. He is sent to recapture Kira.
  • Joel Gretsch as Jonah Gant, Nick's father and an advanced Mover whose refusal to join the Division cost him his life. It is implied that he and Hook once worked in the Division together.
  • Ming-Na Wen as Emily Hu, a Sniffer who helps Nick and Cassie find Kira. She works as a fortune teller in Hong Kong.
  • Cliff Curtis as Hook Waters, a Shifter. He used to be in the Division and after getting out, his wife died in a suspicious car accident and he knew the Division was involved. Since he moved to Hong Kong he has begun hanging out in high-class escort bars where he uses his shifting ability to pay his way. He implies that Nick's father had a similar past and it is confirmed in the comics that both used to work for the Division. He has a habit of saying "that won't last long" after he uses his abilities.
  • Nate Mooney as Pinky Stein, a Shadow who hid Kira from the Sniffs. His nickname is derived from the Division's removal of his right pinky finger.
  • Corey Stoll as Agent Mack, a Sniffer agent.
  • Scott Michael Campbell as Agent Holden, a Sniffer agent.
  • Neil Jackson as Victor Budarin, an advanced Mover and Carver's right-hand man.
  • Maggie Siff as Teresa Stowe, a Stitch who helps heal Nick after an encounter with the Bleeders, as requested by Cassie's mother, who told her to be in a certain place at a certain time and help whomever was there. She is, however, not seen as altruistic, but, instead, out for personal gain rather than helping Cassie and Nick overthrow the Division.
  • Paul Car as Wo Chiang, a Wiper who lives on a house boat in Hong Kong Harbour.
  • Xiao Lu Li as Pop Girl, a Chinese Triad Watcher who tries to find Nick and Cassie throughout Hong Kong. Like Cassie, she draws her visions. Her visions are based on others' intentions and decisions.
  • Kwan Fung Chi and Jacky Heung as Pop Boys, the two Triad Bleeders.
  • Haruhiko Yamanouchi as Pop Father, Triad Bleeder and father to the three 'Pop' siblings.

Types of Superhumans[edit]

Watchers have the ability to foresee the future to varying degrees. As knowledge of the future invariably causes that future to change, Watchers' visions of the future in their direct sphere of influence are subject to frequent shifting. Watchers visions are like a sense of déjà vu. Watchers can get visions at will. Drinking alcoholic beverages can temporarily enhance a Watcher's abilities (as shown by Cassie). Cassie and Pop Girl are Watchers. Cassie's Mother has been revealed to be the most powerful Watcher in the world, setting all the events and foreseeing them even decades earlier, also saying them to Nick's father.
Movers are powerful telekinetics who are trained to identify the specific atomic frequencies of a given material and alter the gravitational field around it, usually causing the nearby air to appear "warped". This allows them to move both animate and inanimate objects. Advanced Movers can work at the molecular level, creating shields in the air around them to deflect bullets or create power fists and kicks, a strike that delivers three times the power of a normal punch. Nick is a Mover, with his abilities at a basic level at the start of the film, developing Advanced abilities later on. Victor, Carver's right-hand man, is a more advanced Mover with abilities to create shields and power-strikes. Nick's father was also an advanced Mover.
Pushers have the ability to implant memories, thoughts and emotions into the minds of other people in order to manipulate them. The skill level of the Pusher determines how many people the Pusher is able to control at one time, and how vivid the implanted memories are. A powerful Pusher can push a large group of people at the same time, basically creating a personal army. A Pusher is able to make a person do anything the Pusher desires, even commit suicide. A Pusher's eyes indicate how powerful they are: their pupils will dilate to certain degrees depending on how powerful the push is (for example, Henry Carver's eyes are rendered completely black, signifying that he is an extremely able and effective Pusher). Kira is also an very powerful Pusher, controlling 12 people at the same time.
Bleeders have the ability to emit high-pitched sonic vibrations that cause ruptures in a target's blood vessels. While using this ability, their pupils turn into vertical slits, like a snake's, because of synthetic materials implanted in them to protect their blood vessels from the effects of their own ability. They are also sometimes known as Screechers or Screamers. Pop Girl's brothers and father, the Triads, are Bleeders. Pop Girl's brothers are powerful enough to destroy locks on doors and shattering glasses to pieces, showing that they are advanced Bleeders. Pop Girl's father is a very powerful Bleeder, capable of collapsing an entire building in rage.
Sniffs are highly developed psychometrics who can track the location of people or objects over varying distances. Like bloodhounds, their ability is increased if they have tactile access to an object that has been in direct contact with the subject. Sniffs receive information in the form of images, which is why identifiable landmarks help increase their effectiveness. Emily Hu is a highly trained Sniff, and she uses her powers for money. Carver's associates who kidnapped Kira are also Sniffs.
Shifters can temporarily alter the appearance of an object by manipulating patterns of light interacting with it. Once the illusion is established, it remains with the object for a short period of time. For example, a Shifter could touch a one dollar bill and alter it to appear as a one hundred dollar bill until the effect expires. The object shifted must have roughly the same dimensions as the object it is shifted into. The length of time that the effect will last is based on the Shifter's experience. Hook Waters, an ex-Division agent and Nick's friend, is a highly experienced Shifter, capable of turning a large suitcase into a fake one and managing to hold the illusion for 6-7 hours.
Wipers are skilled at either temporarily or permanently erasing memories, an invaluable asset in espionage. Experience will dictate the accuracy of their wipes, though there is always the danger that they will eliminate a desired memory. Wo Chiang, an old fisherman who lives on a dock, is a Wiper who uses his powers on those who request it for money. He erases part of Nick's and Kira's memories in the film. It can be speculated that Wipers can send mental blasts into a target's brain or put high mind-stress into their wipes for offensive means, as shown by Wo Chiang when he saves Cassie from Pop Girl by sneaking up behind her and rendering her unconscious, either through the mental-blast method or deliberately over-stressing her mind through his wipe.
Shadows are trained to block the visions of other clairvoyants, such as Sniffs, by diverting the attention of the target radius so that they "flicker" through different locations other than the subject's actual whereabouts. Experience will enhance the size of the area they can shadow and the intensity of their shielding effect. Shadows need to be awake to manifest their ability, so it is common for a detail of two Shadows to operate in shifts while protecting a person or object for extended periods. Most Shadows are effective only against Sniffs, but some extremely powerful Shadows are able to block even Watchers. Pinky, a friend of Nick's, is a Shadow for hire, and he is effective only against Sniffs and is shown to be inferior to the Division's Shadows. Like other characters, he also uses his powers for money. An old woman hired by Kira to hide the syringe has the ability to shadow an entire building, even from Watchers.
Stitches are psychic healers trained to quickly reconstruct cells to their previous or healthy state. Using only their hands, they can heal and even "un-heal" whatever they have done. For more detailed work, Stitches use a silver-based cream on their hands that acts as a conductor for their ability. Teresa Stowe is a powerful Stitch, capable of healing Nick's back to pristine shape and also disabling him later in the film, who also uses the cream.


Director Paul McGuigan at the film's premiere

Push was generally poorly received by critics.[3] Rotten Tomatoes reported that 23% of critics had given the film positive reviews based upon a sample of 126. The consensus reads: "The sci-fi thriller Push is visually flashy but hyperkinetic and convoluted."[4] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 36, based on 21 reviews.[3]

On its opening weekend, the film opened #6 grossing $10,079,109 in 2,313 theaters with a $4,358 average.[5] The film grossed $48,858,618 worldwide, and $16,285,488 in DVD sales in the US alone making $65,157,106 (not including worldwide DVD sales) surpassing its budget cost of $38,000,000 by over $27 million.[2]

Variety: “A confused jumble of parts in search of a whole, Push plays like a mix-tape sample of scenes from Heroes, Fringe, Alias and The X-Files as it follows good guys gifted with paranormal powers trying to stave off bad guys with the same…”

The Hollywood Reporter: “While the concept of corralling assorted Movers (those with telekinetic talents), Watchers (clairvoyants) and, of course, Pushers (mind controllers with the ability to alter one’s memories) and placing them against a stylish Asian backdrop is intriguing, the picture seldom rises to the occasion. …monotonous…”

Screen Daily: “The most compelling thing about Push is its setting. The film was shot entirely on location, which affords it a fresh look and feel, be it in a chase through a local fish market or the juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers and bamboo scaffolding…[The screenplay] is a jumbled mess of narrative clichés.”


Wildstorm, an imprint of DC Comics, published a comic book mini-series that acts as a prequel to the film. It was written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman (who write The Highwaymen for Wildstorm) and Bruno Redondo supplied the art.[6] Issues were published between November 2008 and February 2009, and a softcover collection (ISBN 978-1401224929) was published in September, 2009.

Home release[edit]

Push was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 7, 2009. The DVD included deleted scenes, a commentary, and a 'making of' featurette. Wal-Mart released the film as a double-feature DVD with Knowing.

Soundtrack and score[edit]

No official soundtrack has been released, although the full score is available to stream online on the official Neil Davidge website.

Artist Title
The Kills What New York Used to Be
Yin Xiangjie The Love Of Boat Trackers
Radio Citizen and Bajka The Hop
Working for a Nuclear Free City Rocket
Neil Davidge Original music for Push
Daniele Benatie and Fernando Paterlini Everybody Ciao
South Rakkas Crew Elevator China
The Notwist Consequence
South Rakkas Crew China Funk
The Old Ceremony Bao Qian
Jiang Xianwei A Visit to Suzhou

See also[edit]

  • Stargate Project, the real U.S. Federal Government project to investigate psychic phenomena, used as a basis for the film.


  1. ^ "PUSH (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. January 19, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Push (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  3. ^ a b "Push (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  4. ^ "Push Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for February 6–8, 2009". Box Office Mojo. 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  6. ^ SDCC 08: Wildstorm Snares Push License, IGN, July 22, 2008

External links[edit]