Premium Rush doesn't skimp on speed
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon. Rated 14A. Now playing
Premium Rush is about a bike courier who threads through Manhattan traffic with the trajectory of a ricocheting bullet. As the fearless Wilee, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has about as much common sense as his cartoon coyote namesake. Addicted to the danger of his job, he rides a bike that has no gears and no brakes. As he puts it: “I can’t stop. But I don’t want to.”
One day, Wilee picks up an envelope that attracts the attention of a desperate cop. Detective Bobby Monday (Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon) has a severe gambling addiction. Not to mention a big problem with anger management. Director and co-writer David Koepp doesn’t offer much in the way of plot here, so it would be unfair to reveal the contents of the package. Let’s just say that all of Bobby’s immediate financial problems would be solved if he got his hands on the envelope.
What ultimately emerges is a game of cat-and-mouse between Wilee and Bobby that becomes increasingly frantic. It’s clear that Koepp wants to do for bikes what Bullitt and The French Connection did for the car chase. There’s a small army of stunt riders in the credits. But thanks to seamless special effects and some impressive camera work, the action sequences really deliver the goods.
Unfortunately, character development is sacrificed in the name of speed. Although Michael Shannon manages to add genuine substance to a thankless role, the many talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt seem to fly by in a flash. There’s an anemic attempt at a rivalry with a jealous colleague (Wolé Parks), but like Wilee’s romance with his courier girlfriend (Dania Ramirez), it feels tacked on.
Still, if you want to know why Manhattan bike couriers rank just below car jackers with New York cabbies, Premium Rush provides the answer. Along with a few hard-earned thrills besides.
Watch the trailer for Premium Rush.