Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans put the human in superhuman in Push

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

They are among us. Unassuming heroes and vile villains who can do almost anything. Change our minds. Influence our actions. Morph. Predict the future.

A covert government operation is trying to harness their power. The gifted ones want to understand what makes them tick. Some just wish to be left alone, while others want to have some fun with their telekinetic toys.

But there's a shadowy, malevolent figure hot on their heels ...

No, I'm not talking about Heroes. Swap Hayden Panettiere for Dakota Fanning, switch Zachary Quinto out for Djimon Hounsou, and slot Chris Evans in for just about anyone—and you've got big-screen superheroes in an extravaganza of peril called Push.

Although the filmmakers and actors protest too much (or claim outright never to have even seen Heroes), the two everyman sci-fi stories are inevitably comparable. And what's wrong with that? It's a great what-if scenario, and—just like the TV show—we get a virtual VIP pass to Asia. Awesome!

Fanning plays Cassie, a watcher (which is a Claire ... I mean, a clairvoyant). The 13-year-old is doing everything in her power to free her enslaved mother from a sinister collective called the Division. These guys are trying to twist the talents of those bestowed and turn them into weapons to use for their company's own evil ends. Nick (Evans), like Cassie, is a second-generation superhero, his power being that of telekinesis. Fate brings him and the teen together to fight the bad guys, which in turn leads them to Kira (Camilla Belle), Nick's ex. Kira is a "pusher," and that's the most influential type of all: She can change minds. But is she on the level, or is she just using her ability?

As the drama, intricacy, duplicity, adventure and skullduggery play out in sumptuous Hong Kong, our American heroes can barely keep up—and if all goes well, neither will the audience.

As you twist and turn with all the zigs and zags, you (hopefully) won't even notice all the plot holes and leaps in logic until the end credits start to roll. It's a fast, careening and complex ride ... but when it comes to a screeching halt, you might feel as though your theater seat should have been equipped with a belt.

Fun but forgettable, Push is a decent diversion as we await the bigger and better summer sci-fi flicks.