A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.


May 23, 2010


“Save the cheerleader save the world.” I do enjoy the modern obsession with real world super heroes. Today’s tale of mutant x-powers takes the form of a gritty story of international political intrigue about Division – a government secret project to study and develop super-powerful mutants. It’s also my first time watching this movie, so I’m dealing with first impressions here.

To start off let me ask, for whom was the entirely unnecessary expositional monologue over the opening credits intended? The movie is very specifically targeted for fans of superheroes and such things – so this opening just doesn’t work. Anybody watching this movie already knows what they’re getting into. And, frankly, I’d rather have spent some time figuring out what was going on. (It’s not like it’s too hard.) I suspect that like the Bladerunner narration it was inserted by some studio exec who couldn’t follow the movie.

And that would be my biggest quibble with the move. It’s a slick piece of world building that presents you with this premise and then just sort of plays in the playground it has created. In the world of this movie there are “movers” who are telekinetics who can movie things, “bleeders” who can break thinks or kill people by screaming, “stitches” who can kill or heal with a touch, “sniffers” who can tell the history of any object they touch and trace the location of people who have had contact with the object… all kinds of super powers like that. But the two super powers that really trump everything else are the “watchers” who can see the ever-changing future and the “pushers” who can put any thought or memory into your head. The whole movie is pretty much about confrontations between very powerful watchers and pushers.

There’s the good guys – an inexperienced mover named Nick and the precocious Cassie – a young watcher who’s mother was captured by Division many years ago. A woman named Kira has escaped from Division and taken a super-drug they’ve developed to amplify super powers, and somehow Nick and Cassie get mixed up with her. There isn’t a government on the planet who wouldn’t kill anybody in their way for that super drug (to paraphrase Sneakers) and so not only do Nick, Cassie, Kira and all the motley crew of underground super folks they interact with have to deal with the evil pusher Henry Carver from Division and all his cronies, but they also have to deal with a local band of super-powered thugs that want the power as well.

So once the stakes have been set and the characters introduced the movie suddenly becomes a heist film. Nick figures the only way to cloud the vision of all these watchers out looking for him is to plan an elaborate scheme, write it all down on letters that his crew won’t read until they need to, and then have his own memory of the scheme wiped. From then on it’s kind of Ocean’s Eleven with super powers as the scheme unfolds – and nobody (audience or anybody in the movie) really seems to know what’s going on. It’s a fun ride, but I suspect that on repeat viewings it won’t really hold up. It’s all so very implausible that Nick’s scheme would work out well… he’s only a mover and not a watcher after all.

The acting and effects are all within the realm of “pretty good for a low-budget action flick.” Djimon Hountsou in particular, as the nefarious Henry Carver, is plenty sinister, though you get the feeling he doesn’t have much to work with. The movie is stolen, however, by Dakota Fanning as the prescient Cassie. She has all the best bits, and absolutely brings the movie to life whenever she’s on screen. Quite a contrast to the only other Dakota Fanning movie in our collection (War of the Worlds) where pretty much all she does is scream.

But like I said before – it’s the world the movie creates that’s the real star of the movie. They very nicely demonstrate the power of the pushers, and from that moment on there’s a certain sense of paranoia in the film. If anybody’s memories and motivations could have been implanted by a pusher then what are the true motives? How much of what’s going on throughout the film has already been foretold? (Characters keep showing up who were told to help in this confrontation by Cassie’s mother before she was captured by Division.)

Sadly the real potential for a compete mindfuck is slightly missed. There’s room for a few more twists here and I was kind of expecting more by the end of the movie. It also ends with a lot of things unresolved, perhaps in the hopes that it would do well enough to warrant a sequel. So in the end I was left feeling a little empty. It was like – “Cool, I’m really enjoying this slick funky movie… wait… that’s it?” Maybe they will make a sequel. I’d certainly like to see more.

May 23, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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