Premium Rush – 2012
Director David Koepp
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Wole Parks
Screenplay Koepp and John Kamps
Ever since discovering we were going to get a preview of Michael Shannon as a bad guy in Premium Rush, the movie rose to the top of the must see list. His skills have shown him without peer in the last few years (Take Shelter and Boardwalk Empire). It seemed a fait accompli that he was to play General Zod in the one must see Superman film (Man of Steel) destined to be a huge hit since the second Christopher Reeve opus. One has to hope, however, that he can rise above this performance. Channeling Gary Oldman, closer to Norman Stansfield from Leon than James Gordon from the Dark Knight Trilogy, Shannon uses an accent closer to Boston than New York. It’s not that he is all that bad. It could be that by now, one can expect nothing short of excellence each time out.
As cycling savant, Wilee, Gordon-Levitt gives it a game effort. There will be no awards forthcoming, to be sure, but one can truly buy someone of his stature and swagger as a bike messenger in the concrete jungle. His back and forth with the other cyclers seems frenetic, brash and resourceful. It’s hard to imagine that they would not all be arrested within a week, but hey, this is the big screen. We all want to see stuff we wouldn’t see in our daily lives, and there is plenty of that here.
The rest of the cast is bland and ethnic enough to represent the melting pot, in a Democratic sense. There is nothing resembling real personality here. It’d be nice if there was someone on the level even of Argyle from Die Hard, even. This is mostly the doings of director/writer David Koepp. His work has been between blockbuster good (Jurassic Park and Spider-Man) and awful (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Snake Eyes, Angels and Demons and the 4th Indiana Jones movie). The problem with this movie is not the story, or even the cinematography.
The world of the bicycle messenger is something so readily cinematic, it just begs to be filmed. Koepp’s crew is more than up to the task with everything other than the “choose your own adventure” intersection scenes, which are funny in more than one way. The animation for each of those spots are not up to the task of the humor. The chases are exciting as well as unnerving.
The biggest problem with Premium Rush is the pacing. Koepp cuts things, rewinds, goes forward, sideways and absolutely nowhere with his attempt at Tarantinoesque editing. He tries to cover up the lack of depth my moving plot points everywhere. The result is much more annoyance than enlightenment. All of this renders the film mostly useless for repeat viewings.
It’s been almost 30 years since Kevin Bacon was in another Bicycle Messenger film called Quicksilver. I don’t remember much about the movie now, but I do remember 2 things. Laurence Fishburne was wise to change his name from “Larry” and that film really made me want to ride my 10 speed. The problem for me then was every where I went was hills. The problem for me now is the rather large hill on my upper abdomen. This film awakens those long dormant feelings. That should be enough for one time through.
(*** out of *****)