This will be a brief review. I figure I shouldn’t spend more time writing about the film than they did writing the actual screenplay. But that’s not a knock on Premium Rush. Granted the trailer looked awful. The name is forgettable (and thankfully only mentioned once). But after seeing many positive reviews from diverse sources, I took a dive in. My belief that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the most talented diverse young actor today (having taken the mantle, I believe, from a now older Edward Norton) only helped.
This fun summer ride is what summer action movies should be about…at least the ones without explosions, superheroes, robots, dinosaurs, aliens, or CGI.
As a leisure bike rider who has spent time on the streets of New York, I can say bike messengers are generally despised. Still, taxi cab drivers are hated much more and are more dangerous. Biking on NYC streets is a challenge, but it you control your speed are willing to stop, it’s usually okay. Thankfully, both the characters from and the movie Premium Rush don’t listen to that advice. The movie races along without brakes, just as the lead character does as he tells us repeatedly. You won’t be bored for a moment as the tension mounts and for the spectacular bike and car chases through New York City. As a note, I don’t think they ever specifically revealed that it takes place on a Sunday, but based on the lighter street traffic and the closing of Central Park road to cars, it must be. Or it is a movie and the laws of the real world don’t matter. At least JGL wear a helmet, which is better than most of the riders here in Orange County.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent as the mysterious protagonist compelled to do his job. Michael Shannon practically devours the scenery, Gary Oldman old-school style, as the crooked cop. The cast is wildly diverse racially (White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Chinese, etc.) in a shout-out to New York demographics.
The characters are given just enough back story and motivation to explain each plot point. Beyond that they are rice paper thin. But I didn’t want to know who they were, where came from, or even their last names (or are Wiley, Marco, and Raj actually their last names?). It’s enough to know Wiley used to do “trick” biking to explain away any riding move he accomplishes.
This is the perfect leave-your-brain-at-the door for 90 minutes of pure fun. I won’t remember this film in 5 years, but I sure enjoyed seeing it now.
PS Stay through the beginning of the credits. There’s a short scene showing the aftermath of a real Joseph Gordon-Levitt bike accident during filming.