Premium Rush

PhotobucketPremium Rush resembles the title for a cheesy action flick from 1994. That banner year gave us On Deadly Ground, Terminal Velocity and Drop Zone. Factor in that it’s being released in the notorious dumping ground of late August and there’s every indication that this movie is going to be bad. What a refreshing surprise that the film is actually enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing you’re going to remember 2 hours after you’ve see it, but while it’s playing, it maintains enough pizzazz throughout. It breezes by in an efficient 90 minutes and we’re treated to an engaging adventure for the duration.

Wilee is a bike messenger. The story opens as he’s flung through the air from his cycle to the pavement. In flashback we meet Nima who pays a money launderer $50,000 of her own hard-earned savings from working 3 jobs. She acquires a mysterious ticket that she must have delivered to “Sister Chen” in Chinatown. Wilee is the one entrusted to deliver this precious cargo. But what would a tale be without an antagonist? That’s where Bobby Monday, a crooked NYC policeman, steps in. He is deep in debt to the owner of a Chinese gambling den and wants to get his dirty hands on his valuable delivery. Michael Shannon is high strung and wacky as the rogue cop. He’s playing up the ridiculousness of the whole picture with a shameless performance delightfully lacking in subtlety.

The plot plays out like a confusing puzzle that becomes clearer as the story develops. Mostly it’s no more than a swell exercise to show lots of cool scenes of bikes weaving in and out of NYC traffic. It’s a treacherous occupation intensified because Wilee’s bike doesn’t have brakes, nor does he want them. That’s right, he’s a hipster with a devil may care attitude. As Wilee zips around the city, we’re presented the distinct paths he has the option to take, each demonstrated with the often disastrous collisions that seem to be a common part of his job. These various “what if” sequences illustrating the alternate directions with GPS lines, are exhilarating. It’s the film’s strong suit.

Premium Rush is simply a good old fashioned action B movie. There’s not much logic or depth. The narrative rarely pauses for you to even make sense of what’s happening. It’s just go go go from one scene to the next. But it’s an entertaining ride all the same. As the chases unfold, they feel genuine and dangerous. It got my adrenaline pumping. I flinched on several occasions. Joseph Gordon-Levitt had to receive 31 stitches as a result of a very real crash landing through the rear window of a taxi during filming. The aftermath is notably shown in the middle of the closing credits. The hyperactivity works to the thriller’s favor. But when it’s all over, you’ll be hard pressed to recall any of it a day later. Premium Rush sounds like the latest energy drink. It functions as one too: high in caffeine, but low in nutritional value.

9 Responses to “Premium Rush”

  1. Good review Mark. It’s a fun film, and definitely delivers on the thrills of the late Summer but this writing is so atrocious. It’s even worse especially when you have a guy like Shannon, who is very, very talented and is just unbearable to watch after awhile. Very rare misstep for both JGL and Shannon, but I think they’ll bounce back. Or at least I hope so.


    • I get where you’re coming from, but I don’t think every part has to be as praiseworthy as Take Shelter. I think this is a misstep for Shannon in the same way Anaconda is a misstep for Jon Voight or Congo for Tim Curry. It’s not really a misstep at all, but a silly diversion that will appeal to people looking for a bit of lightweight fun. I thought the chase scenes were incredible and justified the escapade.


  2. So a fun summer escape, huh?


  3. The sounds like a nice movie to give your brain a rest. There’s nothing wrong with that. I was wondering if this was good or not, sounds like it is pretty entertaining. Nice review.


    • It’s a flick you’d watch on TV during a rainy day afternoon when there was nothing else on. You wouldn’t be expecting much, but by the end you’d be surprised with how good it was.


      • Joseph always does a good job in his movies so it doesn’t surprise me this is actually pretty good. It will probably be a rental for me.


  4. I enjoyed it while it was playing but soon after, I forgot it. The scenes on the bikes were awesome.


  5. Great review. I hate the title. I was expecting a total turd, to be honest, but I’m glad you had fun. Maybe I will too. Plus, it’s got JGL and Michael Shannon.


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