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Review: Premium Rush

Aug. 23, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: An NYC bike messenger- Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is chased by a dirty cop (Michael Shannon) who wants to get his hands on the envelope Wilee's supposed to deliver on the other side of town.

REVIEW: I was actually kinda stoked to see PREMIUM RUSH. I love urban biking, as it's something I do literally every day that the sun is out in the spring/summer, and anyone who's biked through a jammed-up rush hour in the big city can tell you- things can get pretty hairy. Heck, my town- Montreal is crazy enough, so I can only imagine what biking through NYC would be like, so I was definitely game for a bike-heavy thriller. There's hasn't been one since QUICKSILVER back in the eighties (QUICKSILVER LIGHTNING!!!) so it's not like the premise is old hat.


Alas, PREMIUM RUSH is not the late-summer jolt it should have been. The writing's been on the wall about this one for a while now, with it having sat on the shelf for a good at least a year (a billboard promoting NBC's long-defunct THE EVENT is featured prominently at one point), and having finally gotten the chance to see it for myself, I'm sorry to say PREMIUM RUSH has a lot of problems- the most critical of which is a story that doesn't make a lick of sense.

The premise calls for the bike courier hero, played by Levitt, to transport an envelope containing a laundry ticket to Chinatown, leading to a stash of cash that's been deposited with a middleman by a Chinese exchange student- played by the cute and predictably helpless Jamie Chung. A dirty cop- played by Shannon, in debt to the Chinese mob has to get the ticket and the cash in order to square himself. However, how the Chinese mob ever finds out about the ticket, or why Chung is even using a middle-man, and then a bike courier after the fact is never properly explained. The premise is just paper thin, with director/writer David Koepp probably hoping audiences will be caught up enough in the action not to care. I doubt it.


Too bad, because PREMIUM RUSH has a lot going for it. Leading man Joseph Gordon-Levitt is white-hot after his turn in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, but he's totally wasted here- with him (or rather, his stuntman) spending a good 80% of the movie on his bike-riding like the kind of idiot (even before he's being chased) that give bike-messengers a bad wrap. I suppose they're trying to do for biking what FAST AND THE FURIOUS did for cars, complete with lots of mumbo-jumbo about how his fixie (fixed-gear- no breaks) bike is supposed to represent his lifestyle (cause he won't stop- get it). Sigh.

But- while Levitt has nothing to do, Michael Shannon, one of my favourite actors, seems to be having a whale of a time playing the dirty cop. He plays the guy like a total psycho, with his eyes all but bulging out of his head- and chews the scenery so mercilessly that even Nicholas Cage would probably tell him to chill. It's way, way, WAYYYYYYYYY over the top, but really- watching Shannon go nuts was the most fun part of the movie. There's actually a great little ten-minute stretch that shows how he gets in debt to the mob which is great, but plays like a sequence from another, better movie. Poor Levitt- as a result of the emphasis on Shannon, winds up off the screen for large chunks of time in his own movie.


One thing I can give PREMIUM RUSH is that it's very lean, running a taut 85 minutes, and it aspires to take place in something close to real time- but with all the flashbacks, this gimmick doesn't really work all that well. The bike scenes are well shot- and little to no CGI seems to have been used to sweeten the stunts, although the constant obstacles placed in Levitt's way to make him jump, duck and swerve every two seconds are a little much. The best of the bunch is probably a warehouse chase featuring Levitt and his sexy girlfriend, played by Dania Ramirez of HEROES (don't even get me started) trying to escape NYPD bike cops by using some cool bike tricks and stunts. A whole gang of bike messengers that were invited to the premiere were hooping and hollering at all the bike action, so it might pick up a cult following on that score.

All in all, despite a good cast, and solid stunt work, PREMIUM RUSH is wrecked by the thin premise, and the nonsensical way the characters act. It's not terrible, but it's annoying as it could have been a really tight little b-movie, and would have been with a better script. Consider this one a near miss.

Extra Tidbit: Both Levitt (LOOPER) and Shannon (THE ICEMAN) have movies playing at TIFF that look awesome.
Source: JoBlo.com

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+3
9:42AM on 08/28/2012

Have to Disagree With Your Review

We saw Premium Rush this weekend and it was a really fun movie. Yes, it's not completely realistic but it never lagged and was a visual treat. JGL was engaging as usual and Michael Shannon was just a blast to watch. The traffic scenes were really well done, though most people don't get up and ride after being doored or dumping their bike. The trials scenes were a blast.
That Parlee was a sweet ride; no way a fixie could catch that. Still, non-riders don't know that.
All in all the
We saw Premium Rush this weekend and it was a really fun movie. Yes, it's not completely realistic but it never lagged and was a visual treat. JGL was engaging as usual and Michael Shannon was just a blast to watch. The traffic scenes were really well done, though most people don't get up and ride after being doored or dumping their bike. The trials scenes were a blast.
That Parlee was a sweet ride; no way a fixie could catch that. Still, non-riders don't know that.
All in all the movie made me want Wilee to win and the ticket subplot provided a decent foundation for all the chases.
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3:07AM on 08/25/2012
I love urban biking, as it's something I do literally every day that the sun is out in the spring/summer, and anyone who's biked through a jammed-up rush hour in the big city can tell you- things can get pretty hairy.


[link]
I love urban biking, as it's something I do literally every day that the sun is out in the spring/summer, and anyone who's biked through a jammed-up rush hour in the big city can tell you- things can get pretty hairy.


[link]
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3:03PM on 08/24/2012
That's too bad. I read a recent review from Roger Ebert giving it a three and a half stars. But judging by the trailers, It didn't seem too much of something I'd want to see anyway.
That's too bad. I read a recent review from Roger Ebert giving it a three and a half stars. But judging by the trailers, It didn't seem too much of something I'd want to see anyway.
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10:11AM on 08/24/2012

Is this a movie or a beverage?

Can't get past how stupid the title is.
Can't get past how stupid the title is.
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10:24AM on 08/24/2012
I think the title refers to a "premium rush" package; an item marked for special rush delivery service.
I think the title refers to a "premium rush" package; an item marked for special rush delivery service.
5:42AM on 08/24/2012
I'm looking forward to this and wrote a feature article on Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a movie magazine. And I think we can all prematurely agree that however this turns out, it will be better than Taylor Lautner's similar-sounding bike messenger action flick "Tracers" coming out in two years or so. JGL over Lautner any day!
I'm looking forward to this and wrote a feature article on Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a movie magazine. And I think we can all prematurely agree that however this turns out, it will be better than Taylor Lautner's similar-sounding bike messenger action flick "Tracers" coming out in two years or so. JGL over Lautner any day!
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3:25AM on 08/24/2012
Still has a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and Ebert really liked it. I'm giving this a shot for sure. Although I'm definiteyl a bit weary of what looks like CGI bike stunts in the trailer. But Shannon and JGL look real solid, of course.
Still has a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and Ebert really liked it. I'm giving this a shot for sure. Although I'm definiteyl a bit weary of what looks like CGI bike stunts in the trailer. But Shannon and JGL look real solid, of course.
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1:59AM on 08/24/2012
Still looks kinda entertaining to me, and I've disagreed with Bumbray quite a few times to be honest. So still hopeful for it.
Still looks kinda entertaining to me, and I've disagreed with Bumbray quite a few times to be honest. So still hopeful for it.
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+2
1:39AM on 08/24/2012
A little surprised this isn't that good, as the trailer is pretty damn slick. But, I've been looking forward to this since I first heard about it, and will be seeing it tomorrow. Hopefully, I will enjoy it despite it's short comings.
A little surprised this isn't that good, as the trailer is pretty damn slick. But, I've been looking forward to this since I first heard about it, and will be seeing it tomorrow. Hopefully, I will enjoy it despite it's short comings.
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11:14PM on 08/23/2012
I'm a little mixed as well. For me, I thought the film would suck. The film getting pushed back from January (a dumping date) to end of August (another dumping date) had me believe the studio had no confidence in the film.Then the reviews started to come in, which were all surprisingly positive. With my expectations fluctuating like crazy, I ultimately feel the film is mindless fun, but there are a lot of flaws as well. As Chris said, the plot goes all over the place and I would also like to
I'm a little mixed as well. For me, I thought the film would suck. The film getting pushed back from January (a dumping date) to end of August (another dumping date) had me believe the studio had no confidence in the film.Then the reviews started to come in, which were all surprisingly positive. With my expectations fluctuating like crazy, I ultimately feel the film is mindless fun, but there are a lot of flaws as well. As Chris said, the plot goes all over the place and I would also like to add that the film goes on for way too long, despite a short running time. There are plenty of flashbacks that really slow down the film's momentum, and the climax is a bit anticlimatic. Also, Jamie Chung's forced accent is horrible! Overall, I give it a 6/10.
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+7
10:59PM on 08/23/2012

hoping to catch this one next week!

Looks like a pure popcorn thrillride to me, and I'm down as hell. It's getting good reviews from the majority of critics as well so that's something [link] hope I fall in with the majority for this one! Too bad you didn't like it CBum
Looks like a pure popcorn thrillride to me, and I'm down as hell. It's getting good reviews from the majority of critics as well so that's something [link] hope I fall in with the majority for this one! Too bad you didn't like it CBum
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