Director: David Koepp
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung
Plot: A bike messenger is pursued by a corrupt New York City cop who is interested in one of his packages.
Review: Premium Rush takes viewers into the world of a bike messenger, where envelopes or packages have to be delivered at a certain deadline, which drives the said messenger to ride like crazy to get to their destination. That means lots of speeding and dangerous moves that could get people hurt.
In that sense, writer and director David Koepp gets it right. Koepp, through his film, lets us ride with Wilee, the best bike messenger in NY, who rides with no brakes or gears (because he doesn't intend to stop). Wilee is really good at what he does, dodging obstacles like cars, people and the like at breakneck speed, and he loves it.
Things get sticky for Wilee however when a dirty cop named Monday wants a certain envelope he's carrying, and is willing to chase him all over the city just to get his hands on it. There's gambling debts, human trafficking and lots of money involved, but all Wilee wants to do is deliver the envelope.
For the first two thirds of Premium Rush, the film actually works. Wilee rides like crazy as he tries desperately to outrun Monday while having to deal with other things like a rival biker, a NY traffic cop on a bike and his ex-girlfriend, also a bike messenger. Koepp gives Wilee the ability to see his options in avoiding an accident by freezing time and showing the end result of those options before Wilee makes the right choice, kinda like Nicolas Cage in Next. There's also the 3D map showing the destination and how far it is from Wilee's current location popping up from time to time, which is also cool in its own way.
However, in the last third of the film, the pace starts to slow down. There's still a lot of riding involved, but by then the story is running out of steam, and at that point, all I could think of was when Wilee was going to arrive at his destination. For a film that is so fast paced, it certainly deserves a fitting climax, but we don't quite get that here.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a more than decent job as Wilee, but Koepp should have given the character more depth, as his motivation on being an exceptionally good bike messenger is not explored in detail. Sure, he's good and he likes being fast, but exactly why that is, is not properly explained. Michael Shannon hams it up big time as Monday, and gives some unintentionally funny emotional outbursts, though some of them actually look good.
Premium Rush is decent entertainment if you're looking for something light to kill 90 minutes, but not if you want something more compelling or memorable. (3/5)