December 3, 2012 -- I figured “Premium Rush” would be an exciting film, but I didn't think it would be so much fun to watch. It has plenty of thrills, a lot of laughs and a plot that is a lot more complicated and interesting than I thought it would be.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who seems like he has been in about every other film this year (“Lincoln,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Looper” for three) shines once again as a bicycle messenger named Wilee in New York City. He rides a single-speed bike with no brakes at breakneck speeds all over the city. He is the fastest guy on two wheels, although a fellow rider, Manny (played by Wolé Parks) of the Security Delivery Service thinks he is faster. He is about to find out.
Wilee (as in Wiley Coyote) is mad at Manny for stealing one of his deliveries, as well as for making the moves on his former girlfriend, and fellow rider, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez of “American Reunion”). He is looking for one more delivery and he gets one, a long ride, but the slick delivery dispatcher Raj (Aasif Mandvi of “The Last Airbender”) won't pay him what the ride is worth.
Wilee picks up the package from Vanessa's roommate, Nima (Jamie Chung of “Sucker Punch”) at a college campus and his life immediately gets dangerous and complicated. He is immediately confronted by Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon of “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans”) who says he is a campus cop. He wants the package. Wilee tells Monday that he won't give up the package. It is company policy. Monday starts chasing Wilee all over town.
Through flashbacks, we learn that the package is worth $50,000 in cash, that Monday needs it to pay off his gambling debts and Nima needs it delivered to buy passage for her son from China to America. Not only is Wilee being pursued by Monday, who is a New York City cop, but he is also on the run from the rest of the police force for breaking a whole lot of traffic laws during the chase.
Monday is desperate to get the package because the crooks he owes money to may kill him if he doesn't make good on his promise to deliver the cash right away. Wilee is pretty certain this delivery is not worth all the danger and trouble, until he learns what is really at stake. One humorous subplot has to do with a very determined bicycle cop trying to catch Wilee.
The film uses some interesting graphics to show Wilee's progress through New York. A combination of graphics and slow-motion shots are used to show Wilee's quick decision-making process as he charts paths through dangerous intersections at high speed. This device, used several times, shows us what are, in effect, alternate realities. This is what happens if the takes the left side of the street and this is what happens if he takes the right side, etc. This visual storytelling device works very well.
The acting is strong, the cinematography by Mitchell Amundsen is thrilling, the pace of the film is fast, script is well-written and the direction by writer-director David Koepp (“Ghost Town”) is sure. It is a lot of fun to watch. This film rates a B+.
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