Film Review : Premium Rush
● By Justin Buettner
A New York messenger biker, Wilee, is thrust in the middle of a corrupt policeman, a Chinese immigrant smuggling operation, and an illegal gambling ring when a package he is paid to deliver sends everyone after him. Wilee must navigate the busy New York streets on a tight deadline with dangerous people hunting him down. All that and he also deals with the drama of trying to repair his broken relationship with his girlfriend and fend off a rival messenger biker from stealing his route and glory.
Premium Rush should be an a non-stop thrill ride of a film. At almost exactly ninety minutes the film does not try to overstay it's welcome and the lead biker Wilee refuses to ride with brakes, blasting through red lights in the middle of busy New York rush hour traffic. The action is clearly shot, but it quickly becomes dull. The choice of camera angles are fairly standard and the movie fails to add too much creativity in its chase scenes with the exception of a clever escape inside a police station impound garage. The biking footage featured inside an Island's restaurant is far more exciting and compelling than anything shown in Premium Rush.
Missing the mark on the action would not have mattered as much if the story of Premium Rush was strong, but unfortunately it is not. The convoluted plot is silly and honestly quite strange. The corrupt cop does his best Ray Liotta impression, but it does nothing to make him more intimidating. Nothing in the movie, including the danger of being hit by a car, felt very dangerous. The entire film felt insanely safe, as a result all its edge, tension, and thrills were missing. The collective subplots including Wilee's romantic interest and his rivalry with another biker just never seemed to fit. Part of this is due to the absurd dialog, but the horrible performances delivered by the cast didn't help either.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a fine actor and has delivered some incredible performances over the past few years, especially his award worthy performance in last year's 50/50. Gordon-Levitt is solid in the lead role but has almost no help in the writing or the cast around him. When half the lines you are forced to deliver make little sense I imagine it would be hard to muster a terrific performance even for the best of actors. The question remains why did he choose this film?
David Koepp both wrote and directed this film. His writing credentials (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds) far outmatch his directing filmography (Trigger Effect, Stir of Echoes, and Ghost Town). Even his box-office successes were never my favorite movies, so it stands to reason his newest effort is as sadly mediocre as the rest of his work. I strongly feel the subject matter of New York bike messenger could be a successful one in more capable hands. Koepp has a great sense of premises and ideas, but I don’t think he is very good and building a complete story around his strong ideas.
Truth be told Premium Rush was not unwatchable, just lazy and forgettable. A movie with so much built in tension and action should have been as flat and uninspired as this movie came across. The writing inexcusably lazy. Anytime someone sets out to make a movie with an x-game style sport at the center of the action it is a tall task for Hollywood, for no other reason than it is hard to beat the real deal. Premium Rush is an example of this as the film won't offer biking enthusiast anything they haven't seen before and the story is way too bland to grab your attention. You're better off going for a bike ride yourself than sitting through this movie.
Films like Premium Rush : Speed, Out of Time, and 30 Minutes or Less
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.