I’m going to start this off by saying that I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His body of work post-3rd Rock from the Sun is phenomenal. I loved him in Brick, 50/50, Inception, Dark Knight Rises, and especially in one of the best romantic comedies of all time, 500 Days (of Summer). I really think he will rank among the A-listers in a few years. And that’s why it pains me to say this. Even good actors make mediocre movies once in a while.
Who came up with Premium Rush? I’ll tell you who. David Koepp, who also wrote some of the best blockbusters from the past 20 years, ranging from Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, Mission Impossible, and Ghost Town (not a blockbuster I know, but still great). It’s almost as if he ran out of ideas and thought of a random occupation (bike messenger) and gave him an appropriate conflict (delivering a mysterious package).
The movie gets into the action pretty quickly. There is nothing you need to know about the characters beyond the fact that JGL has sworn off a future as an attorney, and loves the risk and danger of delivering by bike. Oh yeah, he doesn’t ride with any gears or brakes. Edgy. He gets an envelope to deliver to Chinatown and is pursued by a cop with a personal agenda, Michael Shannon. These two ride it out on the busy streets of New York City and race the clock to reach their destination/agenda.
Normally I can get into chase movies. And this one was quite original as JGL weaves through very tight spaces, often times darting through oncoming traffic. The problem is, I never felt tense once. I almost want to blame the score. It sounded like it was played at low volume and didn’t fit the supposed intensity. I could have gone for frantic techno that made me feel panicked.
The movie tries to play out in real-time so that we’ll feel the delivery deadline approach, and often it jumps back a few hours to give flashbacks and flesh out the story. By doing this, they thankfully gave the reason for the envelope/mcguffin halfway into the movie.
I found it hard to get behind these bike messengers as heroes. The movie does try to explain the underground messenger groups, but when it comes down to it, if I lived in New York, I would hate these guys.
|Can’t wait for the sequel! Premium Rush II: Rush Harder!|
JGL does a good job here as the reckless messenger dedicated to his mission, but I just don’t think it’s time for him to carry a movie by himself. He has a few more years to do as a great supporting actor, or an indie lead before he’s ready to carry a big budget movie. He looks fantastic in the upcoming Looper, but I think Bruce Willis will have a lot to do with that. Michael Shannon as the villain is over-the-top. If John Turturro and Christopher Walken had a baby it would be Shannon in this movie. He seems to be having a lot of fun, and much of that is probably because he’s happy he doesn’t have to ride a bike. I actually thought the best character was a bike cop who keeps trying to catch JGL at random times. He provided the best laughs and probably only had to say two words.
The best parts of the movie are when JGL gets a form of spider sense and plots out his bike path through busy intersections. It’s part Frogger, part Meet Joe Black, and part Tron Light Cycle. The would-be crashes make for good shock value.
This movie knows what it’s not. It’s not trying to be the next Vertigo or Dog Day Afternoon. It is a B movie that wants to take you on a fun ride. The problem is, it’s just not that fun or thrilling. I recommend this as a redbox rental. Well worth the money, just don’t pay theater price. Save up for Lawless next week!