Premium Rush (2012)
Director: David Koepp
Writer: David Koepp, John Kamps
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Aaron Tveit, Dania Ramirez
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 91 minutes
Genre: Action, Thriller
USA Release: 8/24/2012
On DVD (USA): 12/21/2012
In a surprising turn of event, “Premium Rush” is actually a fast, fun, action film that has a just as much brains as it does brawn. Seeing as films that come out near the end of summer, just turn out to be mindless and crappy (for example the awful continuation of the Bourne series with “The Bourne Legacy“), so it’s refreshing to see that the trailer for this film was dead on not only with it’s interesting premise but also with it’s high octane action. If you thought trying to cross the street in NYC was deadly, try being a bike messenger.
Taking place in a matter of 90 minutes “Premium Rush” tell the fast pace story of Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a New York City bicycle messenger. One day while on the job he gets a request to go pick up a package from one of the local colleges. Little does he know that as soon as he leaves NYPD officer Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) is hot on his trail to get it back. Not knowing what he is carrying and due to the policy of the company he works for Wilee blows him off. This all causes a mass chase between to two as Wilee races to the package’s destination in Chinatown. But as the chase goes down, Wilee becomes more and more inquisitive about what exactly he is carrying and why it seem like he might die trying to deliver it.
Like I said in the beginning, it’s almost rare to find a really good action film coming at the end of the summer, it’s the same thing at the beginning of the year, flop after flop. But with “Premium Rush” it’s a non stop roller coaster from the first minute to the last. While the story isn’t all that hard to grasp, the concept is all it’s own having bike messengers be the targets. The story written by David Koepp (who also serves as director) and John Kamps delivers what has to be one of the fastest swing around stories in recent years. So I don’t confuse anyone, what I mean by a swing around story is just that, a story that back traces between events earlier that day and what is currently happening, I doubt that’s the terminology for it (some might say flashbacks but because of the nature of how the story does it I would exactly call it that) but it’s the best way I can explain it to people. Anyways the writers give us a nice look inside probably what every bike messenger in New York actually feels about their job, they would rather be doing this than sitting in a cubical dressed up, can you blame them that does sound wickedly boring. Although the story has your typical formula storyline, the writers twist it not only with the swing around’s but with the action. Most films of this kind you either have to be sneaky and quick on your feet or own a car, in “Premium Rush” though, it’s nothing but the streets you know, the asphalt and a bike with no breaks.
Having bike messengers be the target also makes it harder for the people trying to get to them. If your in a car, your going to be stuck in traffic as they, but in this case Wilee rushes past you with his throughout route that mostly guarantees he’ll make it across the street, even in heavy traffic. Speaking of which that is another cool thing within the story, even as Wilee is being chased and knowing the streets of the city as he does, we watch as his mind works for the best possible route that doesn’t kill him or anyone else. Like I said and probably many other people out there will too, this film doesn’t need a mind-bending storyline, it’s everything else that makes it all edge of your seat material. Like the writing, the directing is what really catches the adrenaline of the streets. It’s all heart pounding, white knuckled, and fearless as the bike messengers glide through the streets weaving around every car that gets in their way. Throughout the film, and seeing as the Olympics have just past it had me thinking about how these people would be perfect for the cycling events or even just some extreme event, no matter what it would be amazing to just watch them do what they do. As you can see I was blown away by the action in this film as well as its story that seem to work so well with the extreme characters. Watching as the bikes jump over fences, over cars and down the tiniest railings that came off the ceilings was just exhilarating and was so effortlessly looking. It just goes to show that this production was well thought out and perfectly executed, and with it’s fast pace that works so well, it ends up paralleling the bike messengers life, they can’t slow down so why should the film.
What makes the story more thrilling is the game of cat and mouse that is played between Wilee and Officer Monday, that also included the rest of the main bike messengers. But before I get to that, lets talk about some of the rest of the cast. While there are only a couple of people that are around long enough and actually have a story, everyone in the cast does a great job. Some notable roles are Wolé Parks and Dania Ramirez. Park’s plays Manny a fellow bike messenger that considers himself the best in the city maybe even the world, although many beg to differ. He and Wilee bump heads as he tends to take over others deliveries if they are to slow to get their first. Parks does a great job of acting like the big guy on campus and kind of bullying Wilee around. As for Ramirez, she is Wilee’s love interest, but at the beginning of the film, things seem to have taken a turn for the worst between the two as Parks’s character hits on her practically the entire film. She thinks Wilee’s mind is only on one thing and that is biking, but as the film progress she learns other wise. Ramirez does a good job at playing the tough girl who probably isn’t that tough off a bike, but hey it is a tough business she is in.
Well now we can come back to the cat and mouse game played by Gordon-Levitt and Shannon. Michael Shannon, is one of those actors I have come to notice can really play any character and give it his all, his performance in “Take Shelter” last year, blew my mind, and he is great in this as well. Although it is a completely different type of film and more mainstream at that he give it his all playing the dirty cop. As he chases Wilee across what seems like the entire city, we watch as his temper becomes hotter and hotter and it seems like he could lose it any minute and Shannon does a fantastic job at that destructive and secretive behavior. For Gordon-Levitt, it seems like nothing can stop him in a role, he does as much as possible to make the role more realistic, like doing as much of his own stunts as he can, which of course results in what we see in the end credits. He makes his character loyal and determined, no one can stop Wilee from delivering that package, not Shannon’s Officer Monday who really wants it or the NYPD bike cop that chases him all over town for causing an accident. Seriously that bike cop was as persistent as the paperboy who wanted his two dollars in “Better Off Dead”. Anyways Gordon-Levitt like Shannon brings everything he’s got to a role and that’s what makes them brilliant actors but also the prefect choices to play opposite each other. As the two of them clash together after running into each other multiple times over the city it becomes apparent that the two will stop at nothing to do what they need to do, even if that means dying.
Overall “Premium Rush” is a exhilarating action packed 90 minute thrill ride. It features a somewhat typical thriller but with a slight twist. And with all the spectacular bike stunts it’s surprising that it can all fit so perfectly into 90 minutes. The game of cat and mouse between Gordon-Levitt and Shannon will have you wanting more by the time the credits start to roll. This is a great action film to end this years hot summer with, so don’t miss it.