Premium Rush (2012) Directed by David Koepp. Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, & Dania Ramirez. IMDB says: ”In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city. ”
I honestly only wanted to see Premium Rush because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I was hoping that he saw something in the script or the part that wasn’t apparent in the trailer to the movie-goer. Every role he’s taken so far, with maybe the exception of G.I. Joe, was a very smart move. And I chalk G.I. Joe up to the idea that he might be a big fan.
The movie had a few elements that seemed like you were watching someone play a video game. It felt like they were really going for a new-school film making style with quick effects and a lot of animated splices. The movie was definitely trying to hit the adrenaline junkie demographic and I feel like it succeeded in that. I didn’t want to get sucked into the movie unless it was legitimately entertaining, and after a few scenes, I found myself genuinely engrossed and wondering what would happen next.
The movie piles on the drama. There’s a love triangle, dirty cops, underground gambling rings, and police chases through out the film. It keeps the pace pretty fast for most of the movie. When the pace slows down, however, its really noticable. The biking scenes are all well thought out and were the best scenes in the movie. Some of the story, however, was washed over. So, you basically had to just go with what was happening on screen and not think too much about it. If you can over look that and are seeking a fast summer flick, I’d recommend catching Premium Rush.
The film introduces its main character Wilee (JGL) with a short voiceover that drops you into the scene and gets you up to speed with his mindset and the cast around him. After the voiceover ends you begin the quickly paced story (it moves slightly faster than real time) of Wilee getting caught up in a tricky situation during a routine bike messenger assignment with flashbacks to fill in the rest. Sounds complicated, but really this movie is very simple. It shines when showing off its slickly shot cycling sequences and has a mad-libbed plot that fills in why he has to get from point A to B.
Gordon-Levitt and the supporting cast obviously had a lot of fun working on this movie and playing off of each other, despite some things working better than others. The movie’s antagonist is Bobby Monday (Shannon) a crooked cop with a gambling issue that finds himself forced to retrieve the envelope Wilee is assigned to deliver to Chinatown by 7PM sharp. Shannon plays the characters a bit over the top which works on and off but his uneven performance still draws out a decent laugh. The side romantic story between Wilee and Vanessa (Ramirez) surprisingly didn’t feel shoehorned and they had enough chemistry to make it a fun part of the story.
Some animation was included throughout the movie to show things like the route that was about to be biked over top of the city Google Maps-style and Wilee contemplating which maneuver to make at an intersection. The idea behind them works, but stylistically could look much better. If they were done right they would have come off more clever.
At the beginning of the movie Wilee’s voiceover explains how he lives for the adrenaline he gets from traversing NYC’s dangerous streets at top speeds on his fixie, and that’s just how this movie is able to be successful. It draws you into the story (despite how weak it is) with its fun bike sequences and real stunt work and never puts on the brakes to give you enough time to pick apart the plot. Premium Rush is the perfect sort of noncommittal movie watch–it requires little thinking, showcases visually pleasing action sequences, and mixes together a fresh concept with familiar tropes you can latch on to immediately.