When it comes to Simplistic Reviews, I’m the elder statesman of the site. My co-reviewers possess an amazingly vast knowledge of film and television stretching back to kingdom come. I have the slim benefit and sometimes curse of having been alive when some of these older films and shows came out. Sometimes it gives me perspective. Most times, as my younger sister would say, it just makes me old. Premium Rush reminds of a time in the early 80s before Xbox and cell phones and Netflix. A time where you were the happiest son of a bitch alive if you had a nice BMX bike with the pegs or, God willing, a go-cart. Where films like Rad, Quicksilver or BMX Bandits, starring an adolescent Nicole Kidman by the way, could capture your imagination like the Avengers does for kids now. Those three films were SILLY, but you’d watch them a million times on cable and try to pull off the sick tricks they do in it with your friends. Premium Rush is a film made in the wrong decade. Made in the wrong century for that matter. I thought about how my brain would have melted out of my head if had I saw it at seven years old. Now, it just seems SILLY.
What is the biggest flaw of Premium Rush? The plot essentially makes sense, but can be easily unraveled if you start pulling at it. That’s forgivable. The main thing that makes Premium Rush feel SILLY is whenever it tries to introduce serious stakes. This is a movie about a bike messenger alluding a dirty cop in New York City. I have a hard time being moved in a film where anyone does a wheelie through Central Park or bunny hops over police cars. Premium Rush has the benefit of being a 90 minute chase sequence. However, it short circuits itself by attempting to be poignant. Take a tip from Sly and the Expendables. Know what you are.
I’ve made mention that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a soon to be Hollywood leading man. His work in Looper and 50/50 is brilliant, he was a standout in Inception, and he ostensibly is the glue for The Dark Knight Rises. You’d think with a film this…well…basic, he’d phone in his performance. But he doesn’t. I think Gordon-Levitt, much like his character in Premium Rush, only knows one speed. All the way. He does the best with what he has to work with for the character of Wilee. However, most of the good stuff goes to his antagonist Detective Bobby Monday, played by Michael Shannon. If there is any reason to see Premium Rush that I could point to, it would be Michael Shannon’s performance. Monday is very reminiscent, but not better than Gary Oldman’s Detective Stansfield in Leon: The Professional. Wow, that’s second time I’ve mentioned Leon: The Professional in as many reviews. It does give me the opportunity the link THIS again. Shannon is batshit crazy in Premium Rush. I can only imagine how dark the character could have gotten if the film wasn’t burdened with a PG-13 rating. Shannon still remains my primary hope to make Man Of Steel awesome.
Visually, Premium Rush is like watching an editor’s orgasm. Well, that may be a little too graphic. I mean, it isn’t as bad as Ang Lee’s Hulk or ANY Tony Scott film. However, the Run Lola Run-like editing is frenetic, though somewhat appropriate for the material. It turns bike accidents into a video game, which is apropos to the overall feel of the movie. You have got to give writer/director David Koepp credit for having the balls to make an action thriller about a bike messenger. Koepp has worked with some of the greats in Hollywood. However, the directorial style that I think rubbed off on him the most was that of Sam Raimi. Koepp’s framing, his camera movements, his mixing of comedic visuals during tense moments is all very Raimi.
Premium Rush is a SILLY, yet, harmless film with a good performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a great one from Michael Shannon. As a whole, it would have been a great concept for an ongoing webseries. For a film, however, it is as substantive as cotton candy. Hop on…yank off the brakes…ride like hell…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.