Reviews

Premium Rush

3

JG-L switches gears…

Despite making his screen entrance in a nasty road accident, Joseph Gordon-Levitt emerges mostly unscathed from David Koepp’s bicycle chaser, credibility-wise at least.

A goofy thriller about hipsters doing cool shit on hot bikes was bound to be a comedown in his Looper/Dark Knight Rises year, unless you count Kevin Bacon’s 1986 rarity Quicksilver as a lost classic.

But with Koepp directing slickly and Gordon-Levitt flaunting the working-Joe appeal of a Keanu Reeves who can act, the result plays like a two-wheeled half-Speed: daft but fun.

Pumping out cod-Point Break lifestyle-speak (“I like to ride…”) as NYC bike messenger Wilee, Gordon-Levitt works up an agreeable sweat. So does Koepp, lunging the camera through traffic and into the air to map-nav routes before staging game-style live/die options at road junctions.

Brisk pace set, he then tricks up the timeline, dialling back from the opening crash to show how Wilee takes charge of delivering a mystery letter that gets bad cop Bobby (Michael Shannon) on his tail.

The plot threatens to tank when it reverses again, but Shannon’s raging-bull Bobby engages as Koepp fills in the blanks around his interest in Wilee’s cargo.

Pity Jamie Chung is a blank as the enigma behind the loaded letter, her story precipitating twists that feel ham-fisted in a film primarily interested in the low-brow thrill of the chase.

But if the pace never fully recovers from the mid-stretch, and if plausibility croaks in bike-on-car crunches that no one could peel themselves up off the road from, Rush just about still hits the target teased by Wilee’s name.

Making sure to drop in the question, “as in Coyote?”, Koepp dispatches Rush as a live-action cartoon that gains what traction it has from extended races on real streets, Shannon’s hefty nasty and Gordon-Levitt’s game performance.

How game? Wait for the end-credits outtakes and see. Not totally unscathed, then.

Verdict:

It’s definitely the ‘other’ Gordon-Levitt film out this month, but this silly cycler whizzes by amiably. Star charm helps: JGL’s enjoyment in his job adds welcome levels of Levitt-y.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • magicwings

      Sep 12th 2012, 12:09

      4

      Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts his natural charm to a film that makes the most of it, playing reckless genius bike messenger Wilee in New York given a package that's wanted by a large number of people. Among his team are ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) and riding competitor Manny (Wolé Parks) who are lightning-fast to his aid when the s**t inevitably goes down. Taking an original stance on chase films, the frequent action is wildly kinetic and lit up with electric energy, and while the simple plot doesn't leave too much to the imagination, the taught 91-minute runtime makes sure that it's fast enough that you're not asking any questions while you're on the journey. The non-linear story flicks between early afternoon and early evening on the same day - the former giving a bit of background on the mystery package, the latter being the frenetic chase to its destination - and the film zips along between them at a rate of knots. Gordon-Levitt has no trouble being the innocent bike messenger caught up in a web of dangerous activity, and camera candy Ramirez is more than just functional as his ex; their romantic spark is best lit when she's happily able to hold her own in some intense rallying. Parks' role serves only to give some friction Levitt's own side and provides an entertaining detour in the middle of the film for them to battle it out in a race through Central Park. While on paper villain Bobby Monday might not be much to sing about, bit-part actor Michael Shannon delivers a Christopher-Waltz-esque performance, ripping apart scenery like a six-foot Godzilla. He is generally the force behind the jarring tonal shifts in the film - beginning in a real light-hearted way, it moves in and out of dark territory - and his finale is a mix of ridiculous, non-existant biker ethos and a rather unsettling resolution. Known as the screenwriter for Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and the original Spider-Man, director David Koepp has no issue in translating what he wants onto film, and as a result all the characters are suitably three-dimensional. Levitt is outstanding without being standout, settling among a cast who each deserve their name atop the poster, and Koepp provides them slick cinematography and an editing style that shows off not just their faces but their pedalling feet too. Picture The Fast and the Furious on two wheels, Premium Rush compensates for a run-of-the-mill story with frenetic action and two memorable leading-man performances for its pro- and antagonists Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon.

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    • LSJShez

      Sep 14th 2012, 18:59

      Just watched it. Not bad. Won't change the world. Just easy fun.

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    • thedanieljson

      Sep 15th 2012, 21:52

      3

      Couldn't agree more.

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