Breakneck speed. Split second thrills. Heart pounding adrenaline. Those are a few phrases to describe the new action flick PREMIUM RUSH. Director David Koepp uses the streets of New York as his race course and we get to go along for the ride. Though the story isn’t perfect there is enough velocity and edge of your seat drive to make this one rush of movie excitement.
Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a bike messenger in Manhattan. He is one of the best though many think him unstable due to his daredevil approach to cycling. When he is hired to deliver an envelope across town he soon discovers that there is more than one person interested in its contents. Including a sordid cop named Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon). Wilee has to use his knowledge of the streets and expert bike skills to stay ahead of his pursuer.
This film works the best when you go along for the ride and don’t stop to ask a lot of questions. The script is solid but you can be frustrating if you think too much about it. There are a few “why doesn’t he just…” moments that may seem logical but would take all the air out of the film. The characters are well constructed and for the most part skillfully portrayed. Levitt is of course spot on. We have come to expect greatness from this versatile actor and once again he puts all his energy into making his character and abilities believable.
Shannon is the scene stealer in this outing though. He plays maniacal to an almost animated level. His facial expressions and dark, shifty eyes are intensely riveting. Yet there is an undertone to his persona that is practically comical. He carries them in perfect balance to deliver a memorable bad guy.
As a cyclist I appreciated the attention to detail given to the tools of the trade. The debate between riders of fixed gear bikes and those with shifters is played out in healthy contests throughout the film. The no brakes, pedals never stop spinning qualities of fixed gears fit perfectly with Wilee’s personality. You would expect him to favor nothing else. His main rival in the film is a spandex wearing road bike guy (Wolé Parks) with a cocky disposition and an unwanted admiration for Wilee. The competitive nature of their relationship is another likable element in the film.
PREMIUM RUSH is rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language. This is an intense thrill ride and the action is non stop. The bad guys are very bad and hold no punches. There is a crazed ruthlessness to Monday that is blatantly portrayed. Also, the language, though never more than PG-13, is rampant throughout. Seems like every other sentence has an expletive or two. It is never gratuitous or crude but certainly fits the characters. Flying through a red light on a bike and barely missing a taxi, it is hard to say “oh shucks”.
I give it 3.5 out of 5 big chain rings. It has all the action you could want and in a creative setting. This makes it stand out from the other cookie cutter chase sequences. Though it is mainly a guy geared flick there is a bit of romance between Wilee and another female messenger. That and the reasoning behind the package puts it slightly in the female wheel house as well.
Review copyright 2012 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.