Movie Review: Premium Rush
Length: 99 minutes
Release Date: August 24, 2012
Directed by: David Koepp
Stars: 3 out of 5
It's the end of the summer movie season, which is generally the beginning of the mediocre movie release season. It's several weeks before the horror films appear in theaters for Halloween and the holiday movie fare is released. Keeping that in mind, "Premium Rush" was a pleasant surprise. It's not quite summer blockbuster fare, but it is a film that deserves some attention at the box office.
If you have ever had an encounter with a bike messenger as something other than the being either the sender or receiver of a package, then you know how annoying these particular delivery people can be. They have a single goal: deliver the package, and if they have to knock you over on the sidewalk or cause a four-car pileup at an intersection during rush hour, they'll do it. Some are more conscientious and will attempt to be as law-abiding as possible.
And then there is Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Wilee is highly educated but chooses the life of a bike messenger over the cushy life he could have. He's an adrenaline junkie, and at times, you are convinced he's on a suicide mission. His bike has no brakes or working gears, and he weaves in and out of traffic at speeds that will make you gasp. Wilee is given a package that must be delivered by a certain time. He receives a bonus for the delivery-a premium rush-as incentive to get the package to its recipient on time. He doesn't know what the package is, nor does he care; he just wants the money. However, a less-than-honest police detective named Monday (Michael Shannon) not only cares, but he will stop at nothing to get the package from Wilee. From the moment Wilee takes the package, the movie starts moving at a breakneck speed and does not stop until the very end.
Gordon-Levitt is believable as the hero bike messenger, something that not every actor could pull off, and he has a likeable face and personality that you can't help but root for. Supporting cast members Dania Ramirez, who plays Wilee's ex-girlfriend, and Jamie Chung, who plays Vanessa's roommate and the person who needs the package delivered, turn in good performances as well.
However, it is Detective Monday, brilliantly portrayed by Michael Shannon, who steals the movie. He has very specific reasons for wanting the package, and watching his descent into desperation almost makes you feel sorry for him.
The other big player in the movie is the cinematography. The movie is constantly on the move, and director David Koepp makes sure you never forget how dangerous and crazy the route of a bike messenger can be-and even more so when being chased throughout New York City by a desperate, corrupt cop. The film has an almost 3D quality to it; it is a tour of New York City at a breakneck speed and will have you dodging car doors, avoiding sidewalk elevators, and holding your breath every time a traffic light turns red.
During the brief downtime moments of the film, you get some insight into each of the characters, which explains their actions. Wilee is trapped between living the life he wants and living the life created for him. Nima, the girl who needs the package moved, has a big secret, and the safe delivery of the package is of utmost importance to her. Detective Monday is coming apart at the seams for various reasons. It's the collision of everyone's issues and secrets that propels the movie. Without any of the characters' issues, the movie would not work.
Overall, the movie was a fun ride. It is understandable that they released the movie later in the season to get it as far away from the other chase movies of the season, including "Total Recall" and "The Bourne Legacy." You also won't be at the very edge of you seat like you were for "Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol," but you won't feel the need to yawn and mentally rearrange your sock drawer, either. "Premium Rush" makes "Quicksilver" look like a leisurely bike ride through Central Park. It is a movie that holds appeal for both genders; it has action and adventure for the guys and just enough storyline to keep a female who is more into relationship movies interested.
If you get the opportunity, check out "Premium Rush" at a theater near you. It's not a bad way to spend a few hours.