<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by David Koepp. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung.
Premium Rush took its time to arrive on Indian shores. This chase movie will enthral bike enthusiasts and people who hate cyclists on their roads with its almost BMX bandit style stunts and slick manoeuvres but you can’t help but think it could have been a lot better.
Set in New York and almost an homage to the band of young cycling couriers who risk life and limb everyday to deliver items of importance from A to B as quickly as they possibly can through red lights, manic NY traffic and cops/residents who see them as a menace, Premium Rush is pretty straightforward. Our hero Wilee (as in the animated Wile E Coyote, though Road Runner would have been more appropriate) played by actor of the hour Joseph Gordon-Levitt has to deliver an envelop with a ticket in it quickly and safely. And there’s no one better than him since he likes living on the edge: his bike doesn’t have brakes or gears!
Wilee thinks it’s cool but his sorta girlfriend (also a courier, played by Dania Ramirez) thinks his priorities are a bit messed up considering he has the qualifications to put on a suit and be responsible. Apparently that level of responsibility doesn’t apply to her life!
Anyway so her roommate Nima (Jamie Chung) is the one who gives Wilee the envelope to deliver to someone in China Town. Okay, so then you have a dirty NY cop called Bobby Monday played by Michael Shannon (you must watch him in Take Shelter) who’s knee deep in gambling debt, gets beaten up by the Chinese mobsters running the dens of vice, and then he beats one of them up and kills him. So now he has to repay the debt and for that he needs to get the envelope. Why? Well I’ll let you find that out cause otherwise there won’t be much to keep you interested in the film.
Director David Koepp is well known for his writing creds with films like Spider-Man, Jurassic Park, Panic Room, War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible but not so much for his directing prowess. He’s given us some adrenaline packed bike chases but if you notice carefully you’ll see the same NY road being used throughout the film. And they’ve done this whole Sherlock Holmes ‘slo-mo alternative prediction’ thing. Like when Wilee has to take a route fast he’ll think: and they show with the aid of a yellow graphic line possible routes and outcomes. Take one and he crashes violently into a truck. Take another and he’ll know exactly when the cab door opens and then shuts so he can get around it. Lots of Apple Maps-type graphics pervade the film too.
But the fun part of Premium Rush is the bike cop (the cute Christopher Place) who chases Wilee through the movie and then gives up at the end.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt did some of the bike stunts and was even injured on set (they show it in the credits; he had to get 30 stitches). Michael Shannon’s character is supposed to be over the top, raving lunatic so you sorta dispense with the thought: oh well can’t he find another way of getting some money?
I saw Ben Affleck’s Argo after this film, which was like fine wine compared to Premium Rush’s baby food.