Rated: PG-13 Some violence, language and intense action sequences
Release Date: August 24, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 31 minutes
Director: David Koepp
Writers: David Koepp, John Kamps
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez, Kym Perfetto, Anthony Chisholm, Michael Shannon
SYNOPSIS: In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope. What he doesn't realize is that the package's content has gained the attention of a corrupt cop, putting the messenger into harm's way.
REVIEW: David Koepp, the writer of many films such as Spider-Man and Angels and Demons and director of Stir of Echoes, takes his talents to the streets of New York City as the director and co-writer of this new film. Joined by long-time writing collaborator John Kamps, Koepp tries to create a world of action and intrigue one gear and spoke at a time.
Bike messenger Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Dark Knight Rises) is one of the premier riders in Manhattan. A former graduated law student, Wilee can't see himself wearing a suit and sitting behind a desk. Out on the streets of Manhattan Island, he rides with no brakes and only one gear. Trying to get extra deliveries for extra cash, Wilee is given a 'premium rush' by dispatcher Raj (Aasif Mandvi,The Dictator). He goes up to the Upper West Side to his Alta Mater to pick up an envelope from friend Nima (Jamie Chung,The Hangover Part II). No sooner then Nima signs the receipt for the delivery, Wilee is chased down by Detective Robert Monday (Michael Shannon,Jonah Hex) who wants the envelope turned over to him. While Wilee is trailed and chased through the rush hour traffic, Wilee has to deal with rival competitive bike messenger Manny (Wole Parks,Taking Chances), a persistent NYPD Bike Cop (Christopher Place, That's My Boy - Stunts) and a scorned girlfriend bike messenger Vanessa (Dania Ramirez, American Reunion). Unsure of what is inside the envelop, Wilee still makes it his mission to get the package to the destination in time.
The premise is simple. Get a package to the delivery address by the time specified. What is not simple is the added pressure of a corrupt cop who is desperate to intercept the aforementioned package from a skilled bike messenger. David Koepp and John Kamps create a story that couples the heart-pounding and adrenaline-inducing career of a Manhattan bike messenger with continual chases through one of the worst rush hour grid-locked traffic systems in the nation.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Wilee is a smart guy with what his messenger friends consider to be a death-wish. The only reason he is such a coyote out on the streets, some say, is that he has traded the safety and confines of an ordinary life with that of constant danger and possible injury. Wilee, though, does not see his life the same way. To him, racing his bike down Broadway at 50 miles an hour is exactly where he needs to be. The bike, he says, is meant to go fast. The aluminum piping, spokes, and thin rubber tires are more stable at high speeds. And if death happens to find him, he will probably never see it coming.
Koepp paces the film like a finely tuned 10-speed racer. Within the same 90 minutes, the director moves forward and back throughout the day, offering up other shreds of information and plot lines to flesh out the story as needed. We learn why Michael Shannon's Detective Monday is so hot to retrieve the contents of the envelope. Why did Nima ask for Wilee specifically to deliver such an important and precious package? What does the mysterious Mr. Leung (Henry O, Rush Hour 3) and his faithful companion who plays Sudoku (Kin Shing Wong) have to do with the envelope?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is stellar as he always has been. Every role Gordon-Levitt has taken is a calculated and positive move. From Brick and The Lookout to Inceptionand The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon-Levitt chooses wisely - and proves he is a superior actor. As Wilee, he is a driven, intelligent thrill seeker not content to become a statistic in a suit. Michael Shannon as Wilee's antagonist crooked cop is a perfect choice as well. Shannon's quirky, desperate, and violent police detective is both funny and unpredictable. Also notable are Wilee's dispatcher boss Raj and Wilee's rival messenger Manny. Lastly, stunt man turned actor Christopher Place, at least for Premium Rush, adds just a little extra levity and reasons to add more bike chases.
Premium Rush is a fast-paced, intricate adventure flick with just a hint of intrigue. Bike chases abound throughout dealing with corrupt detectives, persistent NYPD bike cops, rival messengers, girl troubles, and debts to be paid. The cityscape is as much a character in the film as the headline actors and actresses. The film is solid and well-paced, the story running through the gears like a finely-tuned two-wheeled machine.