Cyclists are cool? Well that’s what David Koepp wants you to think in Premium Rush, a concept thriller that is low on thrills but high on action.
Wilee (pronounced like the bumbling cartoon character) is an idealistic bike messenger on Manhattan island. His job is to get letters to their destination faster than any other delivery method, and he succeeds due to his philosophy of “no breaks, fixed gears”. Unfortunately for him, his high priority delivery attracts the attention of a dirty cop, who for some reason or another, wants it and will pulverise Wilee if he has to. What is so important about this package?
Premium Rush is peculiar movie, simply by concept – the idea of a chase style film with bikes instead of cars is interesting and the visual work on it is equally interesting. But as usual, story gets a little mucked up in favour of this. What could have been a straight forward thriller is somewhat spoiled by an over-use of non-linear storytelling that is overly complicated to the point of convoluted. It’s a disappointment given the potential for Premium Rush to be a real success, spoiled by a method of storytelling that is non-essential in most regards.
But the mind-boggling back and forth plot is just the foundation of a script that just underwhelms in most regards. Perhaps I’m being too hard on Premium Rush but the fact of the matter is that the stakes just aren’t high enough, and because of this it’s hard to really feel a sense of tension or suspense for the plot itself, unlike the Wilee who often seems like a fish in a barrel. With so many action scenes, it’s hard to really get a hold of the characters in terms of personality but it’s okay – Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays himself, Michael Shannon plays himself, and Zoe Saldana plays herself; nothing adventurous to the acting, but still of a pretty high caliber,
With a film like Premium Rush, it’s best to just overlook the story and take the action in for what it is, the plight of the bike messenger as a nuisance and a hero works and the stylish action scenes that feature Wilee plotting out his routes to avoid collisions is a nice touch of genius. That’s all there is to it, enjoy it for what it is and you’ll walk out with a feeling of satisfaction, just be careful of the dialogue which wonders between corniness and silly philosophical mumbo jumbo.
Premium Rush is a very unique movie in that it’s underwhelming suspense is made up for by it’s unique concept and style. So if you can deal with less of a heartstopper in compromise for stunning action sequences, this is your movie.
The Bottom Line
I can’t imagine anything less hardcore than cycling when it comes to chase sequences, but David Koepp does his best to try and convince me otherwise – and it works, albeit not as successfully as he might have hoped. Beneath the skinf of Premium Rush is a heavily flawed script packed with the sort of convoluted plot devices and storytelling elements that are text book mistakes by today’s standards. Nevertheless, it can be bloody good fun if you can overlook story in favour of action set pieces.