Sunday, September 2, 2012

Film Review: Premium Rush

Remember Quicksilver?  The 1986 Kevin Bacon film about bike messengers?  It was the actor's follow-up to his breakout hit Footloose, and was the first of a series of pretty mediocre films Bacon did over the next decade or so.  Perhaps there were one or two good ones in amongst these duds, but you get the picture.  Now this doesn't mean that I believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt's career is about to take a nosedive and he is going to start to do his generation's versions of She's Having a Baby or Tremors.  I was just wondering if anyone else noticed the similarities in the two films.  No?  It's just me?  Okay, I can live with that.  Really though, the only thing these two films have in common is the fact that both are about a bunch of crazy-ass twentysomething bike messengers with delusions of Evel Knievel-ness.  I suppose comparing them any more deeply would be akin to comparing Tin Cup and Caddyshack because they were both about golf.  Anyway, before we start debating over whether Premium Rush is supposed to be Tin Cup or Caddyshack in this scenario, please allow me to digress.

To be honest, this story of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's jaded, suit-hating law school grad turned NYC bike messenger with a seeming death wish, proudly weaving thru the Manhattan streets with no brakes, who becomes involved in a rather convoluted plot that involves Chinese dissidents, gambling parlours, a crooked cop, a love triangle, a silly NYPD bike cop and ticket with a smiley-face on it and a big-ass price tag, really goes nowhere.  Sure, we track and back track and forward track and then back track some more through the busy and dangerous streets of Manhattan (and seriously, I know much of the film takes place during the so-called rush hour, but still the New York streets in this film seem even more dramatically jam-packed and dangerous than normal) but really never go anywhere.  Then again, even though we seem to go nowhere either physically (from Columbia down to Chinatown) or metaphysically (we know how everything is going to end up here - we're not stupid) we do get an almost non-stop rush, premium or otherwise, from opening salvo to finale.  This must account for something, right?

Really though, Premium Rush, directed by writer-turned-director David Koepp (thanks to his writing Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man, he is the fourth most successful screenwriter in Hollywood history, but usually a flop when at the actual helm), may be a silly little movie, but thanks to Gordon-Levitt's cocksure charm, and Michael Shannon's typically creepy (but never cheesy) take on the aforementioned bad cop who is hunting our intrepid bike boy through the also-aforementioned busy, dangerous NYC streets,  as well as the near non-stop racing through the city (there are some really good chase scenes here that are kind of reminiscent, if not done with less cinematic flair, of things like The French Connection and Bullitt) make for a fun film, even with such inherent silliness.  I suppose what I am trying to say is that one can enjoy a film, not only in spite of, but even because of its ridiculousness.  And not to sound too condescending (because I am not meaning to be so), but Premium Rush is most certainly one of those films.


Candice Frederick said...

fun at times, but an incredibly silly plot.

Dan O. said...

Good review Kevyn. Terribly dumb and stupid movie, but also a bit of fun once you get into all of the high-speed chases this film goes through. Shame that Shannon and JGL both have to be in this after starting off so strong right now in their fast-rising careers.

Chip Lary said...

I haven't seen this yet, but the trailer did remind me of Quicksilver. For a relatively short period of time Hollywood produced three bike movies (Breaking Away, American Flyers, and Quicksilver) then seemed to completely forget about the concept.