‘Premium Rush’ Movie Review – It Is What It Is
It is what it is…that’s kind of a stupid saying, I’ll admit, but I really can’t find any other way to describe this weekend’s Premium Rush. Famous screenwriter David Koepp’s action chase thriller originally lends itself to the notion that Hollywood has truly run out of ideas, but if you can get past that, it’s a very entertaining movie. Sneak in some bigger names (enter Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon) and some interesting visuals and stunt work, and the movie likely surpasses ill expectations.
Set in busy, busy New York City, Premium Rush hinges the entire story on bike messenger Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) and his need to “ride like hell.” Daredevil first and courier second, Wilee is in the business to ride around the insane streets of NYC and still get a couple of dollars kicked his way. When something can’t be shipped, faxed, or e-mailed, bike messengers may be your only other option.
Like parts of this movie, if you think about that last sentence too much, the story starts to fall apart.
On this fateful day, Wilee receives an envelope that has some whirlwind consequences. Without knowing the contents, corrupt NYPD officer Bobby Monday (Shannon) sets out to intercept the message before it gets to its rightful owner. Of course, Wilee isn’t one give up his package, setting off an extraordinary chase through the crowded streets, bike-versus-car style.
The story isn’t long (a crisp 91 minutes to be exact), but it can’t sustain itself by just having chase scene after chase scene. So, naturally, there is a bit of filler story. One of them involves Wilee’s love interest, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), as she tries to decide between Wilee and another messenger (Wolé Parks). Also in the mix is a pesky bike cop (Aaron Tveit) who tries to bring down Wilee’s antics.
Unfortunately, the side stories add a bunch of formulaic components to the story.
And even though the chase scenes do seem inherently formulaic (you sort of know how each one is going to end), the tempo and setting definitely set it apart. With car chases being a dime a dozen (or perhaps even cheaper than that), bike chases are less likely – especially bicycle ones (not motorcycles). Therefore, plenty of the scenes are highly enjoyable on the entertainment level. I wouldn’t say that they are extremely believable, that’s a whole different story.
Really, the story splits on the believability aspect. If you can get behind what is going on, Premium Rush is a very entertaining movie. It’s fast enough, fun enough, and short enough to keep you thoroughly engaged. But, if sheer entertainment isn’t enough, the film is likely to falter. For me personally, it does this as I couldn’t find myself caring much less for pretty much any character other than Wilee (although Shannon’s performance as Officer Monday was very fun to watch).
So, Premium Rush is what it is. It doesn’t particularly try to be anything more than a high-octane, chase thriller. It substitutes substance with stunt work, so if that’s your thing…go and enjoy! Just remember, deconstructing this story will probably change how you feel.
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