Published Aug 23, 2012Sometimes, it pays to admit that all you're after is a little fun. Veteran director and screenwriter David Koepp's whimsical and hyperkinetic bike courier chase caper works best when it sticks to quip slinging and showboating acrobatics. I'm not just referring to the pulse-raising bike stunts peppered throughout the picture; Koepp's temporally fractured filmmaking is downright zany.
To tell the story of an adrenaline junky bike courier who gets unwittingly mixed up with mob money and a dirty cop, the director of Stir of Echoes and Ghost Town employs playful cinematography and editing, zooming out to a GPS map when Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is plotting the quickest course through town and viscerally playing out the various deadly potential outcomes when our rash courier has to navigate through sticky situations.
Adhering to Wilee's maxim of "brakes are death", Premium Rush rarely lets up its breakneck momentum and when it does briefly, to expand on underdeveloped background motivations that only exist as an excuse for elaborate chase scenes and a jovial depiction of courier culture, the life drains out of it. It's only a half-assed subplot involving illegal immigration I'm referring to though; the scenes that explain the impetus behind impulsive nut-job, Detective Monday's desperation to snatch the package pop with quirky comedic zest thanks to Michael Shannon's dedicated mania.
Every minute either Shannon or Levitt is on screen, it's hard not to be swept up in the wake of their enthusiastic dueling charismas, despite a regular need for good old fashioned suspension of disbelief. If Koepp had taken the time to write and cast a wackier batch of supporting players, a la Smoking Aces, and at least colour in the perfunctory subplot requiring Wilee to reconcile with his sassy lover and co-worker Vanessa, instead of just making her the object of a standard adversarial mating competition, Premium Rush would have been a relentlessly entertaining piece of silly escapist cinema. (Columbia)