'Premium Rush' (2012) Movie Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Michael Shannon eats up the scenery in Premium Rush, a film not to be taken the least bit seriously, but instead (mildly) enjoyed for its stupidity. Loaded with a multitude of problems -- most egregious would be its focus on the wrong character -- it's hardly a film you need to rush to see, but with the right mindset and friends at your side you could find yourself having a good time.

Premium Rush
Grade: C+

Premium Rush"Premium Rush" is a Columbia Pictures release, directed by David Koepp and is rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language. The running time is .

The cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, Michael Shannon, Aasif Mandvi and Wolé Parks.

Premium Rush is essentially bike messenger porn with a Google Maps fetish and the "street" attitude of Step Up. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a New York City bike messenger who lives on the edge. Yeah, he's a real daredevil. His bike doesn't have brakes (what?) it it only has one gear (word!), anything else is for sissies. He dropped out of law school because he can't see himself wearing a suit to work each day and the fact he gets "paid to ride" is a dream come true as he weaves his way through NYC traffic, fast enough to stop off for a "food log" on occasion. But today he's going to get a package he'd probably prefer he never picked up.

He's handed an envelope and has only a couple hours to get to his location. No problem. He's the best. Pish tosh, ain't no package Wilee can't deliver on time. After all, they don't call him Wile E. Coyote for nothing. Wait, didn't the Coyote always get outsmarted by the Road Runner? You know, "Meep! Meep!" and all? Forget it, we're thinking too much. Drop an ACME brick on that logic bomb and let's move on.

So we're heading upstate with our envelope, but this is where we meet Detective Bobby Monday (Shannon). He's sort of a Bad Lieutenant-light kind of dirty cop. Instead of drugs and sex, his addiction is Pai Gow and he's in deep with the wrong guys. As Bobby's debt quickly runs up over the course of a ridiculous five-minute span where he may as well be on drugs he's acting so irrationally, he learns he needs to get the package Wilee is carrying or he probably won't live to see the next day.

What's next? A lot of Google Maps, bike riding, cars chasing bikes, bikes chasing bikes, interactive 3D Google Earth driving directions, a little more bike riding, freeze-frame "which path should I take?" moments, parkour bike riding and, yup, bike riding. The action is redundant, not necessarily thrilling and while Gordon-Levitt is as charismatic as ever, all the fun falls in Shannon's corner.

Shannon's batshit crazy cop performance is so much fun. There's a moment he's planning on going out on a bust with a pair of fellow officers, but needs to get out of it and says to them, "Yeah guys, I'll catch up with you... I forgot my bullets." Premium Rush needed more of this, less of the relationship drama between Wilee and Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) and the macho BS between he and fellow messenger Manny (Wolé Parks). Shannon's Bobby is a dog without a leash and he's been let loose in the petting zoo. He'll just as soon choke out an innocent young woman as stomp a man's face into the ground and Shannon sells it every step of the way as an excellent B-movie villain.

Directed by David Koepp (Secret Window), who co-wrote the screenplay with John Kamps, whom he co-wrote Zathura and Ricky Gervais' Ghost Town, the film looses its excitement when it's trying too hard for action and would have played much better as an R-rated, crazy cop flick. The angle of a dirty cop who goes in debt playing Pai gow and then has to chase down New York City bike messengers is so silly it's brilliant... as long as you focus on the cop and not the messengers. Sure, the messengers can win, but let's see what else this nut has gotten himself into.

The plotting is ridiculous and, if you couldn't tell by now, the Google Map inserts are tiresome from the first moment you see them, but there is a little bit of B-movie entertainment to be found in Premium Rush, even if you have to put "entertainment" in quotes.


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  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    I cringed at Michael Shannon's performance as I was watching the trailer. I can't imagine siting through 90 minutes of it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kylejames182/ kyle coley

    looks like im renting this

  • Connor

    I don't want to see this. I like Joseph Gordon Levitt as an actor, but this doesn't look good. I can't wait for looper though

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AdamsLostApple/ AdamsLostApple

    The trailer was painful to watch so I expected terrible reviews. This film is lucky to be opening on this weekend with no competition. Any other weekend and it would be lucky to get its head above water.

  • Bren

    So is this the Top Gun of bike messenger movies?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Cordia/ Cordia

    still seeing it, i think.

  • Winchester

    I know you're trying to sell it still, but jeez if it still doesn't sound as awful as the trailer made it look.

    Not that I expect much from David Koepp mostly but still...........

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Mv11391

    Judging from the trailers is so overrated these days, geez. They're a lot of movies with terrible trailers (I thought this one the trailer isn't bad as many are making out to be, it looks fun) and the movie turns out to be 10x better (Pixar trailers are a good example).

    I haven't seen the movie yet but I will cause JGL & Michael Shannon are damn good actors and I usually disagree with critics but both guys are getting rave reviews which i'll probably agree anyways since they are excellent actors and the movie itself is getting good reviews.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/jaybob/ jaybob

    I've read good reviews of this film. Sounds like Brad is going to be in the minority as to the quality of the film.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/cradleman/ Jonathan

    saw it earlier today. I'm a huge fan of JGL and Shannon, so maybe that colors my perspective a bit but I really enjoyed it. The writers, i think, know just how ridiculous the story is and runs with it, and that makes it an enjoyable ride. The bike chases are fun, i loved the shots of him trying to decide how to proceed through traffic, and i really enjoyed JGL and Shannon. It's not a great movie, artistically speaking but it was fun and i'd definitely recommend it. A- from me

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/bridgetoash/ Nathan

    Premium Rush was so bad. This movie takes itself too seriously. How many times does the cardboard JGL character have to mention that his bike doesn't have brakes? I cant get past how terribly cheesy the movie was. Brad said it best when he called it 'bike messenger porn with the "street" attitude of Step Up.' I give it a D-.