Premium Rush: Rated “PG-13“ (91 Minutes)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jamie Chung, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Aasif Mandvi
Directed by: David Koepp
Ostensibly this film is about a New York City bicycle messenger who has been tasked with picking up an envelope at Columbia University and delivering it to a location in Chinatown. His assignment becomes unexpectedly deadly when a dirty cop becomes desperate to get his hands on the envelope and then proceeds to chase the messenger throughout the city in an attempt to retrieve it. Needless to say there is far more going on under the surface of this adrenalin-charged, high-octane film. Fresh off his role as the (presumed) future Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee (as in Wile E Coyote), a hyper-kinetic New York City bicycle messenger who rides a steel-framed bike with no brakes (“Brakes will kill you.”). Schooled as a lawyer, Wilee sees a grey suit and working in an office as the epitome of death, so he chooses to speed through the congested streets of Midtown instead.
Working alongside him are both his ex-girlfriend, Vanessa (Ramirez) and rival (both professionally and for the affections of Vanessa) is Manny (Wolé Parks). As it turns out, Vanessa’s roommate (and former Columbia student) Nima (Chung), is the one that requested that Wilee deliver the envelope. What no one knows is that the envelope contains a special ticket that Nima “purchased” from Mr. Leung (Henry O), a Chinese money launderer. It seems that Nima’s son and mother are still in China and the money for the ticket is to be used to pay off a Snakehead named Sister Chen, to buy a place for them on one of her ships that smuggle people from China to the U.S.
Nima has saved for two years to save up enough to pay for the ticket and it has to be delivered by 7:00 P.M. or her mother and son will be denied passage. Unfortunately, Bobby Monday (Shannon), a crooked cop with a serious gambling addiction and a very large debt to pay off to both Russian and Chinese mobsters, has also been tasked with retrieving the ticket and chases Wilee throughout the city in an attempt to recover it in order to pay off his own debt.
The film is pretty much of a shotgun from the get-go, and utilizes a “back-up-and-rewind” technique to catch the viewers up on both the expository material as well as alternate views of previously-viewed scenes (albeit from a differing vantage point). This methodology of storytelling works quite well for this film as to have started from the(actual) beginning would have slowed the film down and made for a much different film. While the film’s trailer makes it look like an updated Quicksilver, it is nothing of the kind, and delivers a solid rush to watch. As a non-sequitur aside on at least two occasions during the film, Monday identifies himself as “Forrest J Ackerman.” The real Ackerman was a noted science fiction and horror writer, editor, movie fan and memorabilia collector who (among other things) coined the term “sci fi”.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for over 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as here and elsewhere on the web.