Premium Rush – Review

4/5 – Quite a rush!

I finally caught Premium Rush on Blu-ray this week. I missed it when it was in the theaters. Now that I’ve seen it, I wish I had seen it earlier. I remember not being that excited for it in the theater thanks to the trailer, which it turns out did not do this movie justice.

Premium Rush is an excellent thriller. I wouldn’t have expected a movie that takes place mostly on bicycles to be that entertaining, but Premium Rush really is great. The movie is told mostly in real time, between 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM on a weekday evening. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a bike messenger with what appears to be a death wish. Granted, anyone who is a bike messenger in New York City is taking their life in their hands every day on the job, but Wilee lives at the edge. He doesn’t have brakes on his bike. He speeds through busy intersections and rides between buses.

Wilee picks up a package that gets him in a mess of trouble. It turns out there’s a McGuffin in this envelope that a bad man would like to get his hands on. It’s the bad guy in the movie, Bobby Monday (played by Michael Shannon), that was the only low point in the movie for me. At times, it just seemed like Shannon was overacting his part. But after watching the bonus features, it seems Michael Shannon might be like that in real life too, just full of crazed energy. So maybe I have to rescind this complaint.

Wole Parks does an awesome job as the other main antagonist in the movie, Wilee’s nemesis Manny. Manny is Wilee’s opposite in many ways. He wears a helmet, has brakes on his variable speed bike and trains daily, while Wilee thinks brakes will get you killed and rides a fixed gear, steel frame bike.

They’re chasing the ice cream man.

There are a few really cool chase sequences in the movie each involving a bicycle vs. something else. Bike vs. bike, bike vs. car, bike vs. pedestrian, they’re all done great. Director David Koepp does a really good job in the bonus features explaining how he wanted the bike chase sequences to each be very different from each other, and that’s what led them to having the bike face off against different modes of transportation.

My favorite of the chase sequences was the first one, with Wilee on his bike being pursued by Monday in his car. During this chase, a bicycle cop goes after Wilee as well. The bikes can go in places that cars can’t, which Koepp takes full advantage of.

It was also very cool to see Wilee’s point of view as he approaches a busy intersection. His decisions on different routes are mapped out on screen, showing which ways are perilous and which one will will work. The decision takes place in a split-second, but it was very cool seeing it mapped out like that.

It looked like at least 95% of this movie was shot on location. They are all over Manhattan, usually on the streets. It was very cool seeing actual New York City all over this movie. I felt like some of the geography didn’t match up during a couple of the chases, but for the most part, they were accurate.

Premium Rush is one of those rare movies where I recommend watching the special features after the movie. They are both very well done and definitely add to the experience of watching the movie.

Five people played Wilee in total throughout Premium Rush!

I wonder if Premium Rush is helping or hurting bike sales in New York City. After watching the movie, I plan on sticking to the subway.

Yeah…I think I’ll walk.

If I were to rank Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s movies from 2012, I’d rank them Looper, then The Dark Knight Rises, then Premium Rush, then Lincoln. How would you rank them? All-in-all, I scored those four movies 17/20 combined. That might make JGL the actor of the year for Tuesday Night Movies.