Premium Rush (A Small Review)

928290 - Premium Rush

What’s it about? Wilee (yes, like the coyote) is a New York bike messenger. He rides a fixed gear bike, and he doesn’t have any brakes because without brakes he has to be alert at all times. When he approaches an intersection at breakneck speed, as he’s wont to do, he can’t simply stop; he has to visualize all the possible ways to make it through and then pick the one least likely to kill him. This adrenaline junkie wouldn’t have it any other way.  He lives to ride. He left law school to be a bike messenger. With this $80 a day job, he’s never felt freer.

But then Wilee (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) goes and picks up the wrong package. It’s a “premium rush” which means it has a quick deadline. For Wilee, who is the best biker on staff, the delivery is easy enough, but before he can even start, a strange man (played by Michael Shannon) comes asking for the package back, except he’s not the one who sent it out. Wilee refuses (it would, after all, be bad business to just hand your package over to anyone who asks) and continues the drop off only to find himself being pursued by that same man. Luckily it’s easier for a bike to maneuver through the city than a guy in a car. Wilee speeds through Manhattan nearly getting killed at almost every intersection and picking up an additional pursuer, namely the NYPD.

The stakes increase when Wilee’s girlfriend and fellow bike messenger, Vanessa (played by Dania Ramirez), gets involved in the situation just as he is learning how much the package is worth. It doesn’t help that Wilee’s jealous and over-competitive rival, Manny (played by Wolé Parks), puts himself, quite unknowingly, in the mix. And still, if he doesn’t get the package to its destination by the deadline there will be serious consequences. What a day, huh?

Wilee and his pursuer, Bobby Monday

Wilee and girlfriend, Vanessa

 

What did I think about it? It was an entertaining movie with great cycling sequences, a creative and fun visual style, a talented and charismatic lead actor, and a so-so plot. Don’t get me wrong, the plot is solid; it tells the story it wants to tell, but I think its priority is showcasing all the exciting cycling. The hook of this movie is watching Wilee treat New York City as an obstacle course. Maybe an adult bicycle chase doesn’t sound that thrilling in theory, but the film makes it a lot of fun to watch.

Still, I felt the movie wasn’t as thrilling as it could have been. There are attempts to raise the stakes, as I mentioned above, but I never felt completely invested in the story, the characters, or their fate. There’s a particularly tense scene that takes place a police station wherein Wilee is trying to avoid being seen by someone. It had the potential to be a heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat moment, but they needed to stretch that tension out a lot more by pushing Wilee to the verge of being found out. There were serious consequences to being found out, so it’s a shame I didn’t feel like he was in real danger of being caught. That’s kind of how this movie is though; there’s plenty of action and danger, but it’s all fairly lighthearted at its core.

I probably would have enjoyed the movie more if it had been a little darker, and the one place that could have used the most darkening was Michael Shannon’s Bobby Monday character. He’s the villain, and he’s a little unstable, but I was never afraid of him. I wanted him to be colder, more ruthless, more threatening. It would have upped the danger factor by about a thousand.

But we got the movie that we got, and it’s good for what it is.

So what’s the bottom line?  If you’re looking a fun ride of a movie and want to see some cool bike stunts, go see this. Or if you just can’t get enough Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

 

Premium Rush
DirectorDavid Koepp (Stir of Echoes, Secret Window, Ghost Town)
WritersDavid Koepp  (Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and John Kamps (Might Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, The Borrowers, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Ghost Town)

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