In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.
This movie is one that people like to call a ‘popcorn flick’, one that you can sit down and just enjoy watching without having to engage your mind too much to try and make sense or follow it. There are many of these in-between the prime-time, blockbuster movies of the summer and the Oscar strong films of the winter. I never expect too much of these, because from my experience, they usually aren’t that great. Premium Rush, though, gives you everything you want and expect in a popcorn flick.
Writer/director David Koepp, who has a lot of experience in the action/thriller genre, writing screenplays/scripts for Mission: Impossible, War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, and more. He has directed several films as well, but nothing in the action genre. I feel like this has been an idea of his for a while, maybe inspired by the smart-phone era with the movies cell-phone mapping and clock usage, because it is a really sound/whole story for what it’s trying to achieve. It’s got all of the features these movies need.
The lead actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a perfect fit for the role with the state of his up-and-coming career. A recognizable face that people want to see more of in a really fun, enjoyable film. Some good exposure and experience for him. The movie also gives some exposure for Michael Shannon, who gave my favorite performance of the year in 2011’s Take Shelter [Look in my Hall of Fame to find the review!]. His character in this film doesn’t have the menacing, threatening feel that I wish he did, both for his sake and the film’s. He is still entertaining and does fit the sort of lighter, younger-age feel this movie has.
A good chase scene might be the most exciting thing in a film like this, and they are not easy to produce. You have to have some really incredible drivers and camera-work to get the desired level of intensity and thrill. It also doesn’t hurt if you do something new. Koepp has done something really new, littering the film with spine-chilling scenes of bike messengers darting in-between the high speed, tightly packed traffic of New York City. This is every driver/biker/pedestrian’s nightmare, and this movie pries on that. The fact that our hero uses a fixed gear bike [only 1 gear, the pedals never stop moving] with no brakes is the cherry on top of this nerve-wracking idea. The film is just pure entertainment and fun.
The one thing that scares me the most coming into these movies before-hand are the endings, for that is usually where I find out how good the movie really is. It’s not hard to have a good idea for a film and throw it into some terribly written story. Although not pretty, Premium Rush ends well enough for me.
I think Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips said it best: “…the thinking person’s mindless entertainment”.
3.5/4 – David Koepp’s Premium Rush gives us some of the most nerve-wracking chase scenes in recent memory; an awesome, entertaining, and really fun popcorn flick.