Push/Limitless

Push (2009)

Paul McGuigan’s Push is an interesting film that nobody saw when it was released back in 2009. It stars future Captain American Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning as expats with telekinetic and clairvoyant abilities slumming it out in Hong Kong. McGuigan takes the already tired superhero genre and really has fun with it. You have a mysterious organization headed by the always reliable Djimon Hounsou trying to track down a valuable briefcase. The missing briefcase is nothing more than a MacGuffin used to showcase all the characters and their awesome abilities.

There’s a memorable showdown in a Chinese restaurant that features some good old fashion wire work and inventive CGI involving Chris Evans controlling a gun with telekinesis. Also, like every Asian action thriller it ends in a glorious shootout in a construction site, complete with henchmen falling off of bamboo scaffolding.

The actors are in fine form, most notably Cliff Curtis with his scene stealing turn as a slick conman with the ability to replicate any object temporary by manipulating the light source. As good as the actors are, the real star of the show is the locale. Cinematographer Peter Sova does a great job in capturing the kinetic energy of Hong Kong. There are wonderful night shots of all the cramp corners of the busy market bathed in a vibrant neon glow.

Limitless (2011)

Neil Burger’s Limitless is essentially a shot of adrenaline straight to the brain. From the moment Bradley Cooper’s sad sack of a writer Eddie Morra takes a pill that promises to allow him to utilize 100% of the brain’s power you know you are in for a ride. Burger hurls every visual troupe he can think of at the audience, creating a sensory tsunami that’s impressive and frightening at the same time. There’s jump cuts, continuous camera zooms, solarisation and at one point we even see numerous Eddies occupying a single scene. At first, the copious amount of visual effects can be a little exhausting but gradually you start to get use to them.

Limitless despite what Neil Burger wants you to believe is a mindless little piece of entertainment reminiscent of Crank and Guy Ritchie’s entire body of work. It’s silly, fast-pace and most importantly, fun. Not content of just having fun though, Burger decides to really up the ante towards the third act and that’s when the film falls apart. There’s an exact moment when the film just devolves into a nonsensical mess that’s more insulting than fun.

It’s a shame because buried underneath all the flash is actually some good performances. Bradley Cooper gives a charismatic turn as the world’s smartest junkie, while Robert DeNiro tries his best to repair the damage done to his legacy over the years with an understated performance as a successful businessman who becomes fascinated with Eddie.

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One Response to Push/Limitless

  1. Martin says:

    Finally someone else who doesn’t hate Push, it’s not a great film by any means but I could never understand the scorn it received, as you say the use of HK is excellent. That is certainly it’s strongest element.

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