Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Meet Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), namesake of the Coyote cartoon character and a daredevil adrenaline junkie who just can't stand the confines of an office cubicle. He spends his working hours as a bicycle messenger in New York City.
He rides like he thinks too; a fixie -- a lightweight bike with no brakes and no gears. He has a complicated relationship with his girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), a fellow bike messenger. His day gets really interesting when he accepts a seemingly routine courier job from Nima (Jamie Chung), Vanessa's roommate. The package has a crooked cop played by Michael Shannon hot on Wilee's heels... and reels him and his fellow bike messengers into a day of roads, pedestrian dodging and a whole lotta of money.
What stands out immediately when viewing the movie is the sense of speed and danger of what the bike messengers are doing. Weaving in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds, the action is nearly non-stop as Wilee and gang turn New York City into their own personal playground.
All sorts of bike stunts are on display here in this movie and nicely complemented by a vast array of shots. Whatever camera shot you can think of, it's probably in here. Point of view, rear wheel or from the side... Yeah, they pretty much exhausted the list mounting all sorts of cameras on any angles possible.
Cool Sherlock Holmes-like what if situations played out by Gordon-Levitt and a Google maps like graphic that maps out Wilee's route also keep things interesting; which for a movie almost built exclusively on bike chases, is really impressive. For 90 minutes, we were completely enthralled by the action on screen, without ever feeling restless or tired of all the biking action. Long story short; it's Frogged on Steroids.
At first glance, ‘Premium Rush’ has a rather simple plot. That, we’re inclined to agree with. However, plenty of credit should be given to veteran Hollywood screenwriter David Koepp (who also directed this) here. Not only is the movie relentlessly exciting, it also makes use of some non-linear storytelling to help give the story some much needed depth. Even if that wasn't received particularly well, it gave the movie a week bit of respite from the bikes and allowed the film to breathe a little better.
Also read: 8 movies with pedal power
Over the past three years, Gordon-Levitt has grown into a fine leading man right in front of movie goers and their eyes. Here, he gives another assured performance. He's earnestly convincing as a thrill seeker with a good heart who puts 100 per cent into everything he does and grounds the film as the emotional anchor point as a delivery guy who unknowingly gets into a sticky situation.
Even better in the role of a gambling addicted cop is Michael Shannon. Known for his intense and dark performances on HBO's ‘Boardwalk Empire’, he's also set to battle Superman next year as General Zod. As Detective Bobby Monday, Shannon channels desperation and a sort of camp rarely seen these days, delivering run of the mill lines with menace and panache. It's sort of a blend between a don't give a s@#$ attitude mixed with pure anguish. It's diabolical fun.
Despite being somewhat predictable at times, ‘Premium Rush’ powers through it all with tons of adrenaline, enthusiasm and excitement. It's a very satisfying and well put together package that any audience member will find hard to peel their eyes away from simply because of the amount of kinetic energy that is present on screen. It's rather simple, but has enough swerves to make things interesting. Mount a bike and try to keep up.
Dexian or just Dex if you have an inability to pronounce Chinese names, is a fervent film lover who's known to read up on the most inane pieces of cinema trivia just so he has something to talk about when he's drunk. When he's not watching something, he can be found reading other useless Wikipedia articles on things like Nebulaphobia.