Premium Rush is the bike messenger of films: gets to the point quickly and directly and disappears back into anonymity. There may be a few bumps and detours, and it’s not the most efficient method of delivery, but it finds its way with effectiveness, easily does its job, and is just as easily forgotten.
A throwback in many ways, Premium Rush is an action film with ordinary people, a chase movie without motors and a salute to older technology and those who still appreciate it. Director David Koepp does a good job of capturing the mentality and subculture of the bike messengers, in some ways paralleling the camaraderie displayed in the film Hackers, and equips his lead character with an encyclopedic knowledge of New York City and its consequences creating an effect similar to the fight scenes in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, only not as overly used.
Jospeh Gordon Levitt does a believable job both physically and emotionally as a driven, principled bike messenger. The real scene stealer is Michael Shannon with a delightfully insane performance that stops just short of literally chewing the scenery. As fun as Shannon is to watch the stakes of the film never quite solidify. Despite his viciousness, he’s too often made to look silly to become the heavy his performance seems to demand in order to develop a fun bad guy into a horrifying one. But then, this isn’t that kind of movie.
Instead, Premium Rush satisfies itself by being a quick, jaunty interlude before moving onto more important matters – the kind of things that absolutely, positively have to be done as soon as possible. Between now and then, here’s a little movie about bike messengers.[subscribe2]