Premium Rush (2012), starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a daredevil bike messenger and Michael Shannon as a gleefully corrupt cop desperate for the package in his satchel, delivers exactly what it promises, and a little more.
Gordon-Levitt’s Wilee is a blithely adventurous adrenaline junkie who craves the challenge of single-gear biking through downtown New York traffic sans brakes. His spills are just part of the dues. Michael Shannon harnesses his sardonic side, biting back a grin as he spits out deadpan quips, as the amoral cop who has more than his career on the line as he chases Wilee through back alleys and shortcuts to retrieve the film’s maguffin.
Director David Koepp scripted Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and the first big screen Spider-Man, among many others. His scope is smaller when he directs his own projects but he understands the mechanics of action cinema and he puts the promise of Premium Rush right in the title. There’s not much to the plot but the journey is a rush.
It’s not just the camera shooting through the streets or the kinetics of urban chases. Koepp uses graphics as animated exposition and narrative momentum, turning the screen into a virtual Mapquest to speed across the city and a Wayback machine to rewind the film to fill in backstory. But the rush is really in the old school stunts: wheels on the road, bikes jumping in the air, cars squealing through intersections.
Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, and Aasif Mandvi costar.
The Blu-ray and DVD releases include two production featurettes.