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This excitement within this bicycle courier Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller doesn't quite live up to its title....
Sony / 91 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: December 21, 2012
Premium Rush is a whirling pirouette of a movie, one that insists upon keeping its narrative elements lean and mean so its short-and-sweet ninety-minute running time can be all action, no filler. Director David Koepp hardly spends any time familiarizing us with the bicycle courier world of his movie, instead opting to cannonball us right into the thick of it: he figures we can pick up the details as his film - and its many action sequences - play out.
It's a noble conceit. We have Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Wilee, a bicycle delivery dude who is so headsure and confident zinging around the streets of New York City that he comes across as the Big Apple's number-one bike bad-ass. Then, almost out of nowhere, a strange and eerily intense dude (Michael Shannon) demands that Wilee give him one of the parcels he has out for delivery. Wilee refuses, and shit gets real.
And, like one of Gordon-Levitt's other fifty-six movies from 2012, Looper, Premium Rush works like gangbusters... as long as you don't try to open its hood to figure out how it works. It feels like Koepp wants us to not pay attention to the man behind the curtain, instead hoping that the sheer adrenaline and feverish unfolding of his film's events will keep audience members from asking logic or plot questions until after they've finished the ride and the end credits are rolling.
It doesn't really work out in Koepp's favor, though. The elements within the drama at hand in Premium Rush are represented with cool, steady demeanors - Shannon is an always-welcome presence, the movie's music and its editing style both befit the story well - but as frequently fun as the picture can be, there's a vacuous shrug at its center. I'll agree with Koepp that you can absolutely make an exciting, vibrant motion picture out of a nothing idea, but with Premium Rush, one can't help but wish the stakes were higher.