Premium Rush (2012) Directed by David Koepp. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon.
As titles go, Premium Rush is a fairly generic one, which could partly explain why I hadn’t heard of it before it unceremoniously plopped into my Netflix stream last week. Now if they’d called it Google Maps: The Movie (actually a better fit) for better or worse, my recollection would’ve been clear.
Directed and co-written by David Koepp, the film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Wilee, a New York City bike messenger who gets a job to deliver an important envelope of across the ‘death maze’ of rush hour Manhattan. We’re immediately at street level with JGL, winding and weaving between the familiar sight of yellow cabs to the sound of honking horns, as the film aims to establish a pace it intends to maintain. And so, for about 20-odd-minuites, it succeeds, but with a growing sense of inevitability that it will tire and become clichéd, which is exactly what happens.
Koepp attempts to add style on top of energy; we get Google maps style cutaways to mark the routes along with alternate eventualities that play out in Gordon-Levitt’s head as he speeds through perilous areas of the city, some of which are hilariously disastrous.
Michael Shannon’s presence in a one note bad-guy role that only asks him to rant and rave makes you wonder if he owed Koepp a favour, much in the same way his character owes life-threatening quantities of gambling debt to backstreet crime syndicate. He’s good enough, but you can’t help puzzling why he’s here.
While it opts for a non linear approach to storytelling, Premium Rush is as straightforward as they come. The NYC setting allows it to remain busy, but ironically, the final third seems to drag along at a snails pace. 2.5/5