Premium Rush B
Set in Manhattan, “Premium Rush” is suspenseful, action-packed race up-and-down the mean and dangerous streets of the Big Apple.
Unabashedly simple and conventional in its narrative, the movie benefits from strong production values, technical properties, and stunts.
David Koepp, still better known as a writer (for Spielberg, Ron Howard and others), has made the kind of unpretentious feature that’s perfectly suitable to the film medium—and the last lazy days of summer.
What you see on the screen is what you get—no rich subtext, or deep meanings, just sheer joy of watching an energetic and kinetic picture that the late director Tony Scott would have loved—and could have very well—directed.
I don’t mean to suggest that “Premium Rush,” which is co-written by David Koepp and John Kamps, is mindless, or lacking any dramatic interest.
Centering on New York City’s omnipresent bicycle messengers, “Premium Rush” has such a workable and commercial premise that you are surprised no one has done it before.
As director, Koepp has met a number of challenges, as the tense and compressed tale takes place more or less in real time, albeit wide-open in terms of space, and shot from a rather consistent point of view.
Koepp perceives his protagonists as sort of New York’s unsung and invisible heroes, cool young men, who are fast, irresponsible, seldom abiding by the rules, and aiming to be fully in control until they reach their destination and accomplish their specific goal.
The handsome and likeable Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the lead, Wilee, a self-confident, occasionally arrogant bike messenger who knows he’s best at his trade.
The famously fastest bike messenger rides the fixie–one gear and no stopping. He doesn’t believe in the value of brakes, which for him are unnecessary restrictions; he also doesn’t believe in using brakes in other areas of his life.
The fixie is hard to control: It takes technical skills, artistry, and chuzppa to master it. The bike represents an extension of Wilee’s dynamic, present-oriented, fun-driven personality.
Wilee’s obsession with his fixie makes him a daredevil, a cool, individualistic guy, shaped in the mold of Steve McQueen’s cool and rebellious heroes of the 1960s, with the bikes replacing McQueen’s cars (as in “”Bullitt”).
The romantic interest (and one of the script’s weaker characters and subplots), is Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), Wilee’s fellow bike messenger and on-again, off-again girlfriend.
In the rather silly plot, Wilee is racing against Bobby Monday, a police detective who wants to get the package Wilee is about to deliver.
With all due respect to Gordon-Levitt, who should become a bona fide movie star and leading man, the best performance in the film is (again) given by the ever-resourceful Michael Shannon.
The film runs out of ideas after the first two reels, but it does not matter. Among many visceral pleasures, you get a real sense of the excitement and exhilaration of going down a hill at 40 miles an hour with no brakes!
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