Title: Premium Rush
Director: David Koepp
Allow me to be one of roughly a hundred projected fellow reviewers to reference the forthcoming HBO guilty pleasure from the mid ‘80s: Premium Rush is a Quicksilver rip-off. But that’s not such a terrible thing…
The latter starred Kevin Bacon as stock market guru, who ended up having to settle as a speed-delivery bicyclist in San Francisco, after a moronic business move at his high-end gig. In Premium Rush, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a law school graduate, who prefers the adrenaline rush of weaving in-and-out of New York City traffic on a bike with no brakes, as opposed to taking the bar exam and consequently wearing a drone suit-and-tie. During one of his recent delivery calls, he unknowingly carries an envelope that ends up being quite valuable to an assortment of parties; in particular, a down-on-his-luck abusive Chinatown gambler by the name of Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon).
Dedicated to his job, and partially loving the thrill of the chase, Gordon-Levitt rides wild and free (think Fast and the Furious on ten-speeds) avoiding Monday, cops, and even a fellow competitive cyclist (Wole Parks); all while trying to mend his relationship with his girlfriend and bike-messenger co-worker Vanessa (Danina Ramirez – who bears a striking resemblance to Olympian Lolo Jones).
For the movie-junkies out there, take the earlier referenced Quicksilver and combine with this year’s mediocre Man on a Ledge. The tone of the latter is always present but the pacing is moving like a man in a white suit with irritable bowel syndrome that is in desperate need of a port-a-potty. And due to its quickness, it barely has time to properly introduce any of the other characters until the final act (but there is the argument that we don’t need to flesh out the other folks). Further more, this pace leads to an assortment of careless technical mistakes in the editing department. It’s kind of annoying to see Michael Shannon having to slow himself down, therefore looking foolish to the viewer, when trying to grab Gordon-Levitt when he’s in arms-reach on briefly stagnant bike. In reality, this movie could have been wrapped up numerous times if the characters didn’t occasionally have to play horror-movie dumb.
Still, for those that never saw Quicksilver (never thought I’d ever talk about that film so much in my career), this does provide a unique visual vehicle to tell a familiar rundown story. And the acting from Gordon-Levitt, Shannon, and Jamie Lung – whose character is the catalyst for this unique, and silly, chase, is more than serviceable. A few “think cloud” techniques freshens this erratic moving screenplay up, but again, they rarely ever take a much-need breath to ensure everything is sharply addressed. In recent memory, the only film that has been able to properly execute a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants tale and come away without any real “dings” was 2007’s Shoot ‘Em Up. This isn’t far off from that, but it did have its share of mechanical miscues.