AFI DOCS 2014 (Days 3&4)

Premium Rush

Premium Rush is a fun ride – on two wheels- without brakes. It’s sort of like Speed on a bicycle. The film moves at a steady clip, doesn’t make you think too hard, and stars one of my favorite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (if you haven’t seen him in 50/50, put it on your list!). I was a bit afraid that Gordon-Levitt might have phoned this one in, considering his star turns in the current blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises (playing an idealistic rookie cop) and the upcoming, much-buzzed-about futuristic flick, Looper, which hits theaters in late September. But gosh darn it, he’s so freakin’  cute and likeable that I’ll forgive him a year of potential over-exposure.

Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a bike messenger who picks up an envelope that a dirty cop (Michael Shannon) is anxious to get his hands on. The cop pursues Wilee through the streets of Manhattan, determined to get the envelope back before Wilee can deliver it to its intended recipient.

Premium Rush is a chase movie. It’s bike versus car, with a few other obstacles thrown in for dramatic and sometimes even comedic effect. Wilee is a hot dog among couriers. He doesn’t believe in having gears or brakes on his bike. He navigates life – and traffic – at a breakneck pace, which doesn’t sit well with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), a bike messenger with higher aspirations for herself, and for Wilee.

The sub-plot is thin. It involves the Chinese mafia, a human smuggling ring, money laundering, and gambling. But the only real villain is the psycho dirty cop. And the only real hero is our guy Wilee. He takes a beating, on and off the bike, but keeps on ticking. The movie may be somewhat predictable in the end, but there are a few surprises along the way, and a few flinch-worthy moments of brutality that interrupt an otherwise smooth PG-13 ride. You may divert your eyes momentarily. But then you’ll get right back on that bike and keep going for the rest of the 91-minute ride.

Premium Rush is pure escapist fare, fueled by adrenaline more than dialogue or story. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, check it out. Then check out the even better movies starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, like 50/50 and 500 Days of Summer. Did I mention that Gordon-Levitt is just too darn cute not to like? What can I say? It’s true!

1 Comments

  1. sue hoye, August 25, 2012:

    I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. Its fast pace made the hour and half pass so quickly and as you say, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great.

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