Movie Review: Premium Rush

By Stephen Rebello

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Premium Rush is made-to-order for moviegoers suffering from late summer brain-fry


Directors: David Koepp

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Premium Rush is made-to-order for moviegoers suffering from late summer brain-fry. There’s this fearless, death-defying Manhattan bike courier played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt – fixed gear, no brakes – who has just over an hour to drop off an envelope in Chinatown. There’s also an unhinged NYPD guy crushed by gambling debts from too many back room pai gow poker sessions (Michael Shannon) who’ll stop at nothing to get that envelope. 

The setup is as clean, simple and fun as a Road Runner cartoon. ”Wilee” (like Wile E.) is even Gordon Levitt’s character’s first name. Director David Koepp and co-screenwriter John Kamp not only pit the hero against a dangerous, funny, wild card adversary, they also get optimal mileage from the entire city of New York with a hyped-up arsenal of kamikaze cabbies, distracted drivers, self-entitled pedestrians, aggressive cops, busses, potholes and car doors being flung open. Although the movie has a romantic triangle subplot (Dania Ramirez plays a fellow bike messenger; Wole Parks is a studly jerk also interested in her) and secondary characters like agency dispatcher Aasif Madvi, they seem like tacked-on distractions, unnecessary stops on a bullet train. 

Premium Rush knows just what it wants to be: an all-action B-movie blast – smart-stupid, self-mocking, breathless, with terrific work from Gordon-Levitt and a ridiculously fun, over-the-top performance from Shannon


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