“Premium Rush,” written by David Koepp and John Kamps, directed by Koepp, 91 minutes, rated PG-13.
The title “Premium Rush” should give you a pretty good indication of what to expect: something fast, and something stupid. David Koepp’s latest lives up to those expectations. But when you look at the level of talent associated with “Premium Rush,” you’ll find that fast and stupid isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it’s in the right hands.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee, an adrenaline junkie who gets his kicks as a bike messenger, recklessly riding around the streets of New York without brakes. He lives for the intensity, and pities the young adults of the world who wear a suit to work, and sit behind a desk.
Wilee’s life takes a turn when he picks up an envelope for delivery that contains a Chinese ticket worth $50,000. It just so happens the ticket is a nice payday sought by Detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), a corrupt NYPD detective who owes the wrong people a lot of money from his gambling addiction. And so the chase begins.
“Premium Rush” is quick and full of energy, sending Wilee and his pursuers speeding through the congested New York City streets, using maps and arrows to help guide the way. Although it lacks originality, the movie never takes itself too seriously, and at 91 minutes, it’s over before you know it.
Some of the film’s brightest moments come from Michael Shannon, who gets the chance to be the villain, and he takes full advantage of it, overacting to his delight with an irritating laugh he injects into the film over and over again. He’s a bad guy, through and through, and all of his idiosyncrasies make him all the more detestable. Shannon doesn’t take this seriously, but somehow, in his own way, sinks his teeth into this role. You could say the same for JGL, whose Wilee feels like a caricature of the brash action hero cliches audiences are too often subjected to.
Does “Premium Rush” teeter on the edge of self parody, or is it just corny? Probably a little bit of both. Either way, it’s a fast-paced ride full of bike stunts that delivers exactly what it intends to, and it does it pretty well.