Premium Rush (2012)

  • Time: 91 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
  • Director: David Koepp
  • Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez


Wilee is one of 1,500 bike couriers in Manhattan who rides on the edge by having a bike with no brakes. On this day, Wilee has a delivery that is so valuable that a corrupt NYC Detective, who needs the money, begins to chase Wilee throughout the city to get it before the envelope is delivered.

One comment

  • “I like to ride. Fixed gear. No brakes. Can’t stop. Don’t want to, either.”

    Is this the year of Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Premium Rush is one of four films the rising actor has worked on in 2012. Tackling films as diverse as the superhero epic (The Dark Knight Rises), the upcoming highly-anticipated sci-fi mystery (Looper), and Spielberg’s historical drama (Lincoln), Gordon-Levitt pulls another rabbit out of his hat with this high-concept action thriller that can be described as a bike chase through New York. Only that the rabbit feels occasionally weary during its circus performance.

    Premium Rush is like that circus rabbit. We are impressed by the film’s visual energy that provides a kinetically-driven and all-horns blazing urban adventure. But when the action shifts to more dramatic material, which is almost always seen in flashback, the film loses some of its energy which it doesn’t quite recover.

    Writer-director David Koepp keeps the adrenaline pumping for most of the action scenes, though more of it is due to our fear of witnessing sickening vehicular collisions than the thrill of seeing folks riding bicycles at insanely fast speeds.

    Speaking of which, insanity is probably the main theme of Premium Rush. Gordon-Levitt’s character, Wilee, who plays a courier, is insane because he rides a bike with no gears and brakes. Michael Shannon, who plays a corrupt cop with anger management issues, is insane because he pursues Wilee in his car and still can’t catch him. There is also an insane cop on a LAPD bicycle who relentlessly pursues Wilee… to his own detriment. What’s all that insanity for? Well, a mystery envelope may provide the answer.

    A lesser writer would have used that said envelope as a MacGuffin, but Koepp (who wrote well-liked blockbusters like Jurassic Park (1993), and Spiderman (2002)) takes it further by inserting a dramatic subplot midway into the film that involves some kind of a planned reunion between mother and child that motivates the existence of that envelope. This inclusion may feel jarring at the point of revelation, but it gives the film a more humanistic closure at the end.

    Shannon’s performance is the most eye-catching, embodying all the characteristics of a nasty villain. Without Shannon, Premium Rush would have been reduced to a generic chase movie. Koepp knows that high-concept chase movies are hard to sustain for long periods of time, unless you are talking about films like Speed (1994), still one of the very best of its subgenre.

    Premium Rush is kept within a tight 90 minutes; it is fast-paced punctuated by moments of lag caused by one too many a flashback. Of course, the added bonus is to see a sweaty Gordon-Levitt perform some cool bike stunts. Not just cool, but insanely cool.

    Verdict: A strong villainous performance by Michael Shannon, and some nail-biting thrills elevate this high-concept film slightly above the generic chase movie.

    GRADE: B-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *