What? A movie about a bike messenger in New York City? How could this be entertaining? Well, by giving said messenger an envelope that has to be delivered in about 90 minutes is a good way to start.
Then to have a dirty cop also want that envelope because it’s contents are essentially equal to a boatload of money that he could use to pay off his illegal gambling debts and save his life is another way to make it exciting. Dirty cop chases bike messenger through New York City? Ok, maybe we have something here with Premium Rush.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee (Wile E.), said bike messenger. He’s really good at it. Mostly because he takes risks. He has no brakes on his bike; “Brakes are death” is his motto. He’s a smart guy, he could be a lawyer if he would just take his bar exam. But he’s not interested right now. He likes this adrenaline gig. His girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) is on the brink of dumping him, and his so-called nemesis/fellow messenger Manny (Wole’ Parks) is trying to get at her. Most of this is sub-plot that frankly, I don’t care much about. This stuff kind of slows down the action of Wilee being pursued through the streets of New York City.
But some of this sub-plot is needed to explain why the envelope is so important. Turns out Vanessa’s room mate is Nima, who saved a bunch of money to bring her son to the states and the contents of that envelope is what is going to bring him here. I found that information a little hokey, and perhaps a little late in the game.
However, that being said, the chase sequnces are great and Michael Shannon is a cool actor that plays the gambling cop in dire need of that envelope. It is of no small matter to me that he uses the alias “Forrest J. Ackerman” on more than one occasion in this film. If you don’t know who Forry Ackerman is, you aren’t nerdy enough. Google him.
There are a lot of great sequences here involving some amazing bike riders and likely some CG work here and there, but there is no loss of excitement in these chases. All in all, there isn’t a lot of depth in these characters, but Premium Rush provides enough fun to be entertaining. The cast is good, and it’s well shot, too. All this, despite some of the flashback style of exposition slowing down some of the momentum.
Still worth a look, though. Premium Rush is written and directed by David Koepp, who has an inconsistent record for my tastes, but we’ll call this one of his better ones, as I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He DID write and direct Stir Of Echoes and write the first Spiderman movie, after all. About three and a half kittenhands for Premium Rush.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, looking forward to more Josepgh Gordon-Levitt in Looper!