To say this is a fast-paced action movie is an understatement. PREMIUM RUSH is built for speed, a death-defying race against time – and traffic – about the madcap bicycle couriers who tear through the Big Apple making their deliveries.
With little regard for other vehicles, traffic regulations, or pedestrians, they race through red lights, leap barriers, weave through traffic – oncoming or otherwise – on their adrenalin high. And if it’s a “premium rush” job – then Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the messenger of choice. His bike, a lean machine, isn’t even fitted with brakes, or gears for that matter, so it rarely stops. Nor does the film.
Why does he do it? Well, it certainly isn’t for the cash. It’s a high risk job for meagre pay. The bike couriers seem to do it for the kicks and, in this picture, several of them team up; his girlfriend (Daniela Ramirez) and his principle rival (Wole Parks), to outrace the cops on a hair-raising mission to deliver a piece of paper worth $50K for a client. And that’s about it as far as the plot goes. Wilee picks up the envelope at Columbia University and is then chased through Manhattan by a manic cop (Michael Shannon), who wants the ticket for reasons of his own.
Directed by David Koepp (GHOST TOWN, SECRET WINDOW, as well as the screenplays for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and SPIDER MAN) and written by John Kamp, the movie tears along at a pace. Shot on 35 mm film, almost a dozen stunt riders and a huge CGI department add excitement and great visuals to Wilee’s route across Manhattan Island. Overlaid with arrows, maps and other vibrant graphics, he works out his options in split seconds, the possible result of each decision flashing up hypothetically on the screen. Should he take a right – oops, there’s a baby carriage. Swerve to the left and land under a truck, collide with a Yellow Cab, or zip through a department store, dodge through a garage and leap over other barriers obstructing his path. Each choice could be fatal – for him or somebody else. All the while carrying on a conversation with his colleagues via headset…
There is no great character development to be found here, but that’s not what this movie is all about. Gordon-Levitt’s certainly had a good year and, after his dynamic performance with Bruce Willis in LOOPER, it is interesting to see him play such a bright, sinewy speed junky. Shannon, too, as the mad cop who owes money to the mob, puts in a good comedic performance. All in all, PREMIUM RUSH is an exciting action adventure and a great ride!
PREMIUM RUSH (USA, 2012); Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Running time: 91 mins; Director: Directed by David Koepp; Writers: Koepp and John Kamps. Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Daniela Ramirez, Lauren Ashley Carter, Jamie Chung, Wole Parks; Rated PG-13 (for some violence, intense action sequences and language); Release dates: US August 24, 2012/ Germany: October 18, 2012.