There was a moment while watching this movie, soon before it began to come to its climax, that I realized this was one of those movies where the ending was either going to really make or really break the whole film. Fortunately, it was the former. Nick (Chris Evans) is a second-generation Mover; in other words, he has telekinesis… and he sucks at it. Cassie (Dakota Fanning) is a second-generation Watcher; in other words, she can see the (ever-changing) future and draw it down… but she’s not the best at it. When Cassie forces her way into Nick’s life, she forces him to join her on a quest to locate a girl—Kira (Camilla Belle)—who has a case that could bring down the Division, a government agency that experiments on all types of people with extra abilities. Kira has been the sole survivor of a ‘power booster’ injection and has escaped the clutches of the Division, but has had her memory wiped. Now she, as well as Nick and Cassie, are being pursued by one of the elite members of Division, a Pusher (somebody who can make you believe and thus do anything) named Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou).
Overall, it’s a pretty simple plot, but just very difficult to describe (mostly because there’s so many new terms introduced in the film). But first let me tackle the comparisons that have been made to such things like last year’s Jumper or the TV show Heroes. First, the movie is nothing like Jumper except that there are people with superpowers. The story is better, the characters are better, and the acting is infinitely better (for the most part). As for Heroes, I can give it that. The powers are incredibly similar to those of the TV show, especially with Watchers, who can see visions of the future (that are liable to change) and have to draw them down on paper. And then there’s a government-type agency involved with injecting people with abilities. Other than that, the story and characters are pretty different.
The story itself, like I said, is pretty straight forward, though it did lose me a few times regardless of that. For at least half the movie, I’m thinking that the Asian group after them is working with Division, then all of a sudden it comes out (or at least becomes clear) that they’re working on their own. So then who are they? Did I just miss that explanation? And something else I liked with the story is that they left it open for a possible sequel, but at the same time kept this one self-containing so a sequel wouldn’t be necessary (unlike the poor past attempts of similar ideas such as Jumper or The Covenant).
Now to discuss the acting. It can really be said with a couple sentences: Dakota Fanning stole the show and Camilla Belle was pretty bad. Chris Evans was somewhere in between. But I’ll expand for you. Dakota Fanning’s Cassie was, by far, the best character of the film. She made you laugh with her spunkiness and made you sad when she was upset. And boy, was she spunky. Though to the filmmakers: why would you give such a young teenager such a short skirt (and I mean short) and then proceed to take every advantage to shove the camera up her legs? Talk about uncomfortable. Camilla Belle did better facial acting than vocal acting, though that’s really not saying much. I know the girl can act (I’ve seen her do it at least once). But maybe something’s just gotten into her recently. Chris Evans, despite being the main character, really felt left out of the film too much to really show off. Sure he was always around, but I guess Dakota upstaged the guy so much that it seemed she was more the main character than he was.
But of course, you’re wondering about the powers. How were they? For the most part, they were really good. Some of the visuals were kinda bad (like any time a Mover floated a gun, which just looked fake), but overall a good job. The best abilities were those outside the telekinesis. Shadows can hide people or places, and the main Shadow of the movie was funny. Wipers can remove memory. Sniffs can smell any object and see the past of where it’s been and where the people who have touched it are now. Shifters can change the appearance of things for a short period of time (the main shifter of the film was pretty cool, too). Stitchers can manipulate the body by either healing it or painfully destroying it. And then Bleeders do some ultrasonic screams that can apparently break glass, explode fish, and disable or kill people. The face alteration of the Bleeders when they scream is just freaky. And I’ve already mentioned Pushers, Movers, and Watchers. But what I loved most about each of the characters with these abilities is that they weren’t just used once and then forgotten. They were continually brought back for different purposes, and you got to see basically every use of their abilities. The filmmakers really didn’t get lazy with this aspect of the film, and it’s very obvious. It really made the film.
But the coolest thing about the powers was toward the end with the Pushers. There’s a bit of a twist, but because of the nature of the Pushing ability, you can never be sure if it’s true or not. I sat there bouncing back and forth, never sure what to believe, even if you think there’s evidence to prove one way or the other. Just like they do with characters in the movie, the movie sometimes acts as Pusher, letting you never be certain if what you’re seeing is true or not until it’s too late.
For more on the visuals (outside of CGI), the cinematography was nice with a plethora of different colors and hues that inked over the picture—blues, greens… it made you feel like you were really in some kind of acid-trip music video, but in a positive way. And I liked the use of the poorer quality video shots to show when a Watcher is watching you. You’re not sure what it is at first (at least I wasn’t), but when you realize it, the rest of the film you’re like “Oh crap, somebody’s watching them” when it happens. Needless to say, the filmmakers made this one heck of an experience. Like I said with the Pushers, it’s like almost every ability of the characters is used somehow within the film itself to clue in or mess with the audience. And I think that was a brilliant tactic.
Overall, I thought I was going to have a difficult time rating the movie, but the more I write about it and reflect back on it, the more set I really am in my score and my thoughts. There were a few confusing bits (especially for what is essentially a straight-forward story), and there could have been a bit more character development with Chris Evans’ character, and they probably should have cast somebody besides Camilla Belle for Kira. But other than those things, I had a really great time with the movie. I didn’t look at my watch once.
A Keanu 'Whoa'