Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nothing More Than A Brief, Action-y Sugar Rush: Our Review of "Premium Rush" (2012)

Directed By: David Koepp

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung

Rating: PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Synopsis: Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is a law-school dropout turned NYC bike messenger who loves to ride fast on his brakeless bike. One day he gets a call to take an envelope from a friend (Chung) and deliver it to Chinatown. Shortly after he’s intercepted by a Detective Monday (Shannon) who needs the package to pay off a gambling debt. From there and with the help of his ex-girlfriend (Ramirez), it becomes a race between Wilee, Monday and the clock to get the package to its destination.


Andrew: Hello readers! We know it’s been a little bit since our last review and we thank you for your patience! I’m back from my two-week stint working on location in the middle of Pennsylvania and now Sarah and I can get back to seeing movies together on a regular basis.

For the first movie we’re going to review after my return (and as a new member of The Large Association of Movie Blogs, what up?!) we saw Premium Rush, the new action film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter). JGL plays a NYC bike messenger named Wilee (pronounced “Wiley” like the cartoon coyote) who picks up a parcel that Shannon’s corrupt NYPD detective needs to intercept so he can pay off some gambling debts.

Sarah, this isn’t a film we had a chance to preview last week but I’d say it’s one we’ve been looking forward to because we like JGL. Now that we’ve seen it, what do you think of Premium Rush?

Sarah: I’m going to say that I didn’t mind it. I went into it knowing that it was going to be nothing but bike chase sequences and JGL trying to get this package from Point A to Point B as fast as he could and insanity would ensue in-between those points.

I wasn’t necessarily impressed with the dialogue or acting but I don’t think that’s why this movie was made. I think it was to showcase this lifestyle of bike messaging. I like JGL in it, I think it’s pretty sweet that he did his own stunts, and beyond those remarks I’m just going to repeat that I didn’t mind it.

What did you think?

A: I like your assessment that you didn’t mind it, because I didn’t love it nor did I dislike it. It was definitely somewhere in-between. And I think that’s because it’s what the filmmakers were striving for – they knew that it was going to be ridiculous. You can kind of tell from the CGI involved with some of the action pieces going on that it didn’t have the highest budget, too.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a fairly good portrayal of a New York City bike messenger in Premium Rush. Despite all the silliness, his sincere depiction makes it fun instead of silly.

They were just going for something different, a little bit of an adrenaline rush. It’s not going to be any sort of classic like Speed or anything, but Premium Rush is certainly ridiculous along those lines and everyone involved with the making of the film embraced it for that fact.

I did like the leads. You nailed it on the head that the acting wasn’t great. But JGL certainly put his all into it, especially doing a number of his own stunts; Michael Shannon did a great job and seemed to be having a hell of a time bugging out as the bad guy cop…

S: Yeah, I don’t like him.

A: You don’t like him in that role?

S: No, I don’t like him in general. I don’t quite understand…I’ve looked him up on IMDb and tried to see what I’ve seen him in and I guess I haven’t seen any of the films that he’s critical lauded for, because he bugs me. I just don’t like him. I find his voice extremely annoying and he’s NOT pleasant to look at, and obviously his acting was subpar in this film so I’d have to see something he’s acclaimed for, but I just wasn’t impressed.

A: Gotchya. There are a few films he’s acclaimed for like Revolutionary Road and Take Shelter that we need to get you to see I think. But yeah, he wasn’t great in THIS film obviously and some of the mannerisms he does, especially with his voice, kind of bugged me too but he played a good enough villain in that you got the idea of why he was in the situation and why he was after Wilee.

Again, Premium Rush is not a GREAT movie. It’s not one you go to expecting to see it’s name popping up around awards season, but let’s be honest – we needed a review for the site. (*we both laugh*)

S: Very true. And we have a number of great films coming out soon but this was one I actually wanted to see. We’re both big JGL fans and…

A: And we had fun! I laughed a number of times, I enjoyed the “Bike-O-Vision” as I’ve heard the filmmakers call it, where Wilee would come up to a particularly dicey situation and time would slow down and we’d see Wilee’s thought process about which route he should take and the consequences he thought might happen if he went that a certain way. That entertained me. They didn’t do it too much, which was fine.

Our friend that went and saw the movie with us, Steve, made a good point in the car that there was a LOT of biking going on and there’s a LOT of stuff that goes down in a really condensed amount of time so some things seemed unrealistic. But to be fair I’m not sure what the real life of a NYC bike messenger is. They COULD bike all the way from Columbia to Chinatown in less than an hour, I don’t know.

Ok, so one thing I did want to touch on is you said the dialogue was kind of crappy…

S: Kind of? It was AWFUL. Let me make that straight.

A: Noted. So let me run down a list of movies that David Koepp, the director and co-writer of Premium Rush, has written before as a screenwriter, shall I?

S: Please do.

A: In order: Death Becomes Her, Jurassic Park(!), Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Panic Room, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Angels & Demons. So he’s a pretty big name as far as screenwriting goes and there are some good movies in there!

Sarah was not a fan of Michael Shannon (right) as the film's antagonist, Detective Monday. Andrew thought his chewing the scenery was pretty fun. Agree to disagree.

S: There are some good movies BUT…good movies that if you broke down their dialogue, they’re simple. He writes simple dialogue, which isn’t awful for every time, not all movies need to be super complex, but still.

A: True, but the quality of films he’s been involved with in the past are better than most. So kind of surprising that he would write such weak dialogue, in my opinion.

S: But you know at the same time I don’t think that was the focus of the film. The dialogue wasn’t even second or third on the list of priorities really.

A: Very true. Ok so let’s focus on a couple of positives real quick. The action sequences were all actually really well shot, very well choreographed and well executed by the actors and stuntmen.

S: Yes, especially in the busier streets of Manhattan! It was impressive to see them film it right in downtown New York.

A: Agreed! I liked that we saw some different sides of Manhattan than you normally do in movies and on TV.

S: Like you usually see the glamorous sides of the city and streets like 5th Avenue and Times Square, and we did have a scene go through Times Square but it wasn’t a real important one.

A: I particularly liked the way the seedy looking police precinct felt. We got to see almost a more realistic side of New York City than we’ve seen in recent years in film.

S: Versus the New York City of Sex and the City.

A: So props to the filmmakers for that, and props to JGL for doing a lot of his own stunts.

S: I was very impressed with that. He’s becoming a very well-rounded actor and we like him in a lot of things including The Dark Knight Rises but also in films like Hesher.

A: Oh yeah, and also think about how Premium Rush finished shooting a couple of years ago, really, and has been sitting on the shelf. They definitely released it now to capitalize on his rising stardom.

So what are our final thoughts on Premium Rush?

S: I don’t think you need to see this one in theatres.

A: No? I think the chase scenes (and there are a lot of them) will look way better on the big screen than a TV. But yeah, you don’t NEED to see it in theatres, I get what you’re saying.

S: Yeah. I’ll give you the chases will look better on the big screen. It’s not a movie we’ll own someday, but overall it would make a nice matinee.

FINAL VERDICT: A nice way to kill a Saturday afternoon!

(Out of Five clapboards)

Photo Courtesies: Movie FanaticDigital TrendsScreen Rant


  1. "It’s not going to be any sort of classic like Speed or anything"

    I guess it's a classic...? lol

    But good review. I've been on the fence seeing it but with Lawless out tomorrow, this movie's probably going to get swept under the rug for a rainy day on DVD.

  2. I'd call Speed a classic 90's action film! Again, not GREAT, but everyone knows it! Lol

    And yeah, Lawless is next up for us too. As is Celeste and Jesse Forever finally.

  3. Good review. This flick didn't do much for me, but it was still a bunch of late-Summer fun that I needed after seeing The Apparition. God, that thing was shit and if you see it, good luck.

    1. Yeah, we have no intention of wasting our money on The Apparition. I might watch it someday on Netflix for the hell of it, but we're not wasting our hard-earned money on that one. At least The Raven was unintentionally funny.