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Director David Koepp's “Premium Rush” is for the most part exactly as the title dictates – a rush that rarely ever looks back from its first scene where it shows actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt flying off of his bike to a crunchy pavement landing right in the middle of a busy New York City street. I thought I was in for a quick sprint, but no, living up to the expectations I set forth for this film after the first few minutes was not accomplished, and in the end it felt like an overly long jog that ended walking with your hands on your waist because you’re too tired.
The plotline of “Premium Rush” starts out simple but expands intricately. Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is an immature 20-something bike messenger in the Big Apple who just can’t stop searching for a rush – hence why he delivers packages faster than anyone else can on a beat up bike with no gears or brakes. He meets his match when he is confronted by shady and dirty Officer Robert Monday (Michael Shannon), who wants the contents of the envelope Wilee’s carrying.
It’s not drugs, money, or vouchers for drugs or money that Wilee’s carrying. He’s carrying a message: the message of freedom. Yes, this is the part where “Premium Rush” goes incredibly wrong in so many ways, and I don’t want to go into too much detail about it – see how you feel yourself. Slowly but surely you’re shown that the envelope up for grabs is just filled with another heartwarming message movie topic, such a major letdown amidst a bustling setting.
Riding a bicycle in the city is a raw game. You have to be fearless, heartless and temporarily carless in order to navigate aggressively amongst motor vehicles. “Premium Rush” was not raw or aggressive; it was quite flat even though it was fun. It tried to move at the pace of Tom Tykwer’s 1998 German masterpiece “Run Lola Run” but only manages to do so for a short time before you realize that any sense of originality or audaciousness is lost after the first 15 minutes.
On the flip side, there was a lot that was very good about this movie. The sound mixing is wonderful. There are horns and alarms and voices everywhere in the background that make you think you’re actually in the big city. The acting was on par as well, as Gordon-Levitt perfectly personifies the hipster you’d see aggressively riding their bike around any major bike-friendly metropolis – but he’s not the best actor in the movie. Save that title for Michael Shannon, whose dirty cop persona’s level of paranoia is both funny and alarming – like a much milder version of Nic Cage’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans” role.
Ultimately, “Premium Rush” is quite formulaic yet still quite entertaining. If you’re either into riding bikes or dirty cops, it may be the perfect rush for you.
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