Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on August 24, 2012
Directed by David Koepp
Written by David Koepp and John Kamps
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Wolé Parks, Aasif Mandvi, Jamie Chung, Ashley Austin Morris, Christopher Place, Brian Koppelman, Wai Ching Ho, Henry O, Lauren Ashley Carter
As many of you know, a bicycle has been my primary means of transportation for several years now, and for the past three decades I’ve been using one for exercise, getting to work, and riding around just for the fun of it. And with all that bike-riding experience, I can tell you that after watching Premium Rush, I’m convinced I’ll never be as cool and sophisticated as the cyclists portrayed in the film. And like cyclists in other biking movies, such as Quicksilver and American Flyers, perhaps that kind of cool isn’t such a good thing.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a bike messenger for a New York City delivery service, who picks up an envelope from a college student to be delivered to a location in Chinatown. However, before he can leave the university campus, he’s stopped by a man named Monday (Michael Shannon) claiming to be campus security, who demands the envelope be given to him. Wilee says no and takes off, with Monday in hot pursuit; the man is actually a gambling-addicted police detective who needs the contents of the envelope to pay off a large gambling debt owed to a loan shark.
And that’s about the gist of it: Monday spends the entire film chasing Wilee in and around downtown New York, car versus bike, with Wilee racing along city streets and sidewalks doing everything he can to outwit, outmaneuver, and outrun him. In the meantime, Wilee’s being hassled by bike police, a bothersome co-worker, and a snotty ex-girlfriend, and is frustrated by all those cars and pedestrians that keep getting in his way and hampering his lifestyle. And that’s what irked me about the whole thing: these arrogant bike messengers thought they owned the world, but to me they were nothing but a bunch of reckless nitwits with a complete disregard for everything and everyone around them.
I will say that, thankfully, I wasn’t irritated by Gordon-Levitt, who I like in most everything he does, and here played a pretty decent guy, and I thought Shannon did a great job at playing an overbearing jerk, who at least had a good reason to be one, and whose character could be cut a modicum of slack. I can’t say as much for everyone else in the film, however. These messengers and their devil-may-care attitudes had me not only despising them, but also wondering: do they really ride non-stop, sans brakes, through crowded city streets and walkways, and expect to be treated as if every paved surface was theirs and theirs alone? Do they seriously use their heavy chain locks to smash the side mirrors of vehicles that have the audacity to be in their way?
Obviously, I thought this was a very annoying movie, with annoying characters, annoying direction from David Koepp (enough with the flashy camera tricks already!), and an annoying story that wanted to be hip and trendy, but wasn’t. I guess if you’re a bike messenger, you might relate to it all, but otherwise I can only recommend this to fans of Gordon-Levitt, and warn everyone else to steer clear. In the context of this film, ‘premium rush’ meant urgent and very important; well, Premium Rush was neither. And I promise you this: if I’m ever in New York City, and you’re a messenger riding on a sidewalk and yelling at me to get out of your way, I’ll knock you on your goddamn ass. (3/10)