Premium Rush ****
Directed by David Koepp
Starring – Joseph Gordon Levitt, Michael Shannon and Dania Ramirez
IF JACK Bauer owned a BMX bike, you might think his day would play out like the events of Premium Rush, certificate 12A. The polished thriller is directed by American director David Koepp and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and takes place over several hours on one sunny day in New York City.
Levitt’s character, nicknamed Wilee, after Wile E. Coyote from Looney Tunes, is an adrenaline junkie, law student dropout. Working as a courier, his character lives life in the fast lane, cycling through the streets of New York without any brakes or gears, dashing between lanes and avoiding the dreaded yellow taxis.
Wilee is facing his problems with his relationship with his colleague, Vanessa, played by the beautiful Dania Ramirez. He is concerned by the intentions of the cocky and confident Manny, played by Wole Parks. But Wile’s day takes a turn for the worse. When a seemingly routine pick up of a package from a young Chinese woman, puts his character in the sights of the Michael Shannon’s, deranged Police detective, Bobby Monday.
Monday is determined to retrieve contents of the package, to ease his financial problems with the Chinese mobsters, to whom he is in debt to.
The film plays out like an episode of 24 on bikes, as Levitt’s character is chased through New York at breakneck speed. Koepp’s feature is confident, upbeat and plays out at a frantic pace. From the stylised Sat-Nav sequences, showing Wilee’s route throughout the city, even the numerous set pieces in which his character selects his best available route, when he confronted by a multitude of options. The film oozes with confidence and a style reminiscent of the first Crank feature.
Levitt is a confident central protagonist throughout, managing to hold the film’s cheesy threadbare plot together. Shannon though is a little too over the top as the film’s central villain. At times his performance was to pantomime for my likening. Considering how good the actor has been in previous features, such as Bug and Take Shelter. It’s a shame to see him seemingly wasted here.
Both actors’ careers are very much on the up, especially Levitt. The young actor has carefully selected his roles over the past few years, film’s such as 500 Days Of Summer and last year’s brilliantly funny 50/50 has seen the actor conquer the indie movie scene and he is now confidently moving into blockbuster territory with The Dark Knight Rises and Looper, which is out later this month.
If it wasn’t for the growing star power of the film’s principle cast, it would be hard to justify the cinematic merit of this film. Despite only having a one hour, 33 minute runtime, it runs out of steam in the last 15-20 minutes. Several flashbacks slow the film down, needlessly filling in several bits of needless exposition, without ever really adding that much, other than slowing the feature down.
A cynical viewer might be critical of how easily the plot develops, with several narratives intertwining between the film’s central characters and everything clicking together and resolving itself so easily. But, overall it’s hard not to be won over by the feature and its adrenaline fuelled magic.
Premium Rush might not be perfect, but it is a fun little feature, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Koepp’s directorial style is highly polished, reminiscent of the approach taken by the late Tony Scott.
Review By William McClean