In the middle of an already bad day, speed-loving New York bicycle messenger Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is assigned an urgent package to deliver across town. To make matters worse, however, Wilee is relentlessly pursued by a mysterious man (Shannon) who desperately wants the contents of said package for himself…
Having stood out in The Dark Knight Rises and about to do so again in the upcoming Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is undoubtedly the man of the moment. Presumably hoping to cash-in on this, Premium Rush sees him in another leading man role, literally saddled with the task of making us side with cyclists (which, as anyone who drives a car will attest, is not easy). And whilst certainly not Speed-on-a-bike as you might have hoped, the result is an occasionally thrilling (if ultimately disposable) chase thriller, if you don’t mind how lightweight and simplistic it is.
Of course, writer-director David Koepp is better known for his writing work (Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way, Spider-Man) than his directing (Stir Of Echoes, Secret Window, the underrated Ghost Town), but here he does both. To his credit, the whizzing cycle-chase scenes are complemented by some nice touches (Wilee mentally making split-second course choices, the Manhattan Sat Nav shots), but there’s never really much in the way of tension and the movie eventually runs out of steam (somewhat ironically). Though the flashbacks allow more screen time for Michael Shannon (always a good thing), they also hinder the picture’s momentum and rob the story of its suspense. A few more twists and surprises would have worked well. But in the end what keeps us watching is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s likeability (he’s obviously more of a Road Runner than a Wile E. Coyote) and Shannon’s perfectly-pitched scenery-chewing.
Whilst certainly not Speed-on-a-bike as you might have hoped, Premium Rush is an occasionally thrilling (if ultimately disposable) chase thriller, if you don’t mind how lightweight and simplistic it is.