There aren’t enough movies like Premium Rush, and it is a shame. Films like this justify the ever-increasing prices of movie tickets. It is quick, fun, and entertaining as hell: the perfect movie to see on a big screen. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a reckless bike messenger who finds himself in life-threatening danger when he picks up a new package that a dirty cop (Michael Shannon) needs to save his own skin. The supporting cast includes Aasif Mandvi, Dania Ramirez, and Jamie Chung.
This has got to be one of the most cohesive casts I have seen in a while, which is odd because everyone comes from such different places as actors. You have Michael Shannon, best known for terrifying heavy-weight performances, then you have Aasif Mandvi, a popular contributor on The Daily Show. Dania Ramirez is best known for a supporting role in Heroes, while Jamie Chung started off on The Real World, and JGL… well, no one has really been able to pigeon-hole that guy into one genre yet. But somehow it manages to work, as if their diverse strengths mix together perfectly to create a tasty actor smoothie.
Even with a great cast though, the film could not have worked without the perfect pace of its writing and editing. There were a number of places it could have gone horribly wrong, but for the most part it dodged them all. It moves forward consistently, even when it’s flashing back to hours earlier, and though it goes fast you never get lost or fail to pick up the subtlety of the actors’ performances. And that is no small feat, especially with a movie like this. I mean, there is nothing original about this film – everything going on here you have seen before. What makes this film so good is not the new ground it breaks, but the way that it manages to do something familiar and do it so well.
Unlike so many other films with disjointed narratives (namely, the ones not made by Quentin Tarantino), this film uses its skewed timeline in a way that feels natural. It is never exploited or made a spectacle of. It is integral to the story, but it isn’t thrown it in your face either. Your attention stays on the story, right where it should be.
The only possible criticism I could make of this film is that it lacks ambition, even though that’s actually part of what I like so much about it. Despite all of the action and suspense, the film is really little more than a slice-of-life picture, detailing the rarely explored world of bike messengers. The film doesn’t really purport to be anything more than that, and as result it is very easy to watch. But even though there is something commendable about the perfecting of something so simple, you can’t help but
wish there had been more, that it had tackled bigger issues, said something bigger. I doubt it would have made the film any better, but I would have enjoyed a little more risk-taking on the filmmakers’ part.
All of that said, it’s a great little film, well worth the price of admission. It looks great, sounds great, and still feels great after it’s over. How many things in life can you say that about?
In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.