Premium Rush

For a couple of reasons, Premium Rush took a very long amount of time until it was completed and distributed to your local cineplex. Principal shooting of the film began in July of 2010. Star actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt was injured doing a scene, and that caused a delay.

Then there was a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement made in 2011. In July of 2012, a federal judge declined to dismiss the lawsuit brought by author Joe Quirk, which claimed that Sony Pictures, and the film’s principals – Pariah Productions, director David Koepp, and co-screenwriter John Kamps – were in breach of an implied contract.

With that background, the film opened five days ago on Friday, August 24th, and it veritably jump starts you right into the action with no delay whatsoever. Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a bicycle messenger working in Manhattan. His assignment will be to go up to Columbia University at 116th Street and Broadway, pick up an envelope, and get it delivered to an address in Chinatown on Doyers Street by 7:00.

When he gets the assignment, it is close to 5:00 PM and he is at the messenger service office in midtown. For this package, time is of the essence, and for this, the agency dispatcher labels the delivery Premium Rush, and charges a higher than standard fee.

So Wilee has to ride up to Columbia, pick up the package for delivery, then ride back downtown in a little more than 90 minutes,

which coincidentally is the length of the movie.  When the client signs the delivery order ticket, it is 5:33 PM, so, as you can imagine, things are going to happen very quickly in this film. Maybe they should have called the film Breathless. Apologies to the 1960 film, Breathless, by Jean-Luc Godard which starred Jean-Paul Belmondo as a car thief, and also to the 1983 film of the same name which starred Richard Gere, as a car thief. On second thought, Breathless may not be the correct title, as Gordon-Levitt never seems out of breath.

Today is Wednesday, August 29th, and I saw the film, 5 days ago, when it opened on the 24th. The box office reports have been disappointing at best, and more accurately, one might call the results disastrous.

In my view the film was well made, exciting, and certainly had plenty of speed, however this isn’t a film for everyone.  But more accurately, maybe the ticket buying public can’t identify with riding a fixed gear bike with no brakes. They have no wish to spend 92 minutes watching an actor, or three, or four of them, pedaling furiously up and down Manhattan streets and avenues.

Not so with me, I like films set in Manhattan, as I lived and worked in Manhattan for years. I am familiar with speed and pace of the city. Jaywalking, dodging taxis, and carefully looking out for bicycles hurtling towards me at high speeds, became second nature to me. But I can understand why folks in places west of the Hudson River might not see the film in the same way.

But there’s more – maybe folks heard that Michael Shannon played a semi-deranged detective,  who was out to intercept Wilee and get that package, so he could deliver it, and by doing so, he’d clear a huge debt that he had with the Chinese gangsters who ran his favorite Chinatown gambling den. At times, Shannon resembled the Bond villain, Jaws.

Or maybe seeing a film that was mostly on bikes and in motion, made the film seem like it would be simply one long chase scene stretched out to 92 minutes. Well, that is not exactly and completely true, but is nearly true.

Watch for Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung as the female leads. Ramirez- I had seen in 9 episodes of Entourage in 2010, as Turtle’s love interest. Here she is Vanessa, another bicycle messenger, girl friend of Wilee, and the roommate of Nima (Jamie Chung).

Nima was doing business with a snakehead, Sister Chen, a bad woman who dealt in smuggling people out of China and into the US. So for Nima, having Wilee deliver the package on time was nearly a life or death situation. In short, Vanessa is hardly ever off her bike, and Nima, is in a rush and seems in peril throughout the whole film, but –  she is never on a bike.

My last comment is that the story is so very thin. Deliver this package in 90 minutes or bad things will happen for Nima and her family. Or from Detective Bobby Monday’s perspective – Give me the package or things will go very badly for you. Yeah, those two sentences explain the whole movie.

I’ll rate the film at three point two five, and give it points for action and thrills. Shannon’s Bobby Monday was over-the-top as the lunatic cop who found himself on the back of the proverbial tiger with no way out. But the rest of the cast (Nima and all other Chinese characters excepted) were too busy racing around town to deliver much in the way of acting. Sweat yes – but acting not so much.

Save this one for a rental. Check out the trailer below.



One thought on “Premium Rush

  1. Great review. Although I disagree on Shannon. I loved him in this movie. I felt he was complex and quirky in all the right ways. And scary when he wanted to be.

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