Sunday, May 19, 2013

Premium Rush

Directed by David Koepp.
2012. Rated PG-13, 91 minutes.
Wolé Parks
Lauren Ashley Carter
Christopher Place
Anthony Chisolm
Kym Perfetto

Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is a Manhattan bike messenger. For those of you who've never been to New York he’s a same day courier of small packages that rides a bicycle instead of driving a truck. Rest assured, this is a real job in the Big Apple. As you might imagine, with your knowledge of Manhattan traffic, real or just what you see in movies, this isn't the safest occupation in the world. Wilee seems to make it even more dangerous. He usually rides at breakneck speed, refuses to even have a break on his bike and commits as many moving violations as humanly possible. He has an unbridled passion for riding and is completely dedicated to being on time. Therefore, he’s the perfect person for Nima (Chung), the soon-to-be ex-roommate of his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Ramirez), to call when she has a highly valuable, time-sensitive envelope to be delivered across town. He picks it up at about 5:30. It had better be there by 7:00, or else. Of course, we wouldn't have a movie if there weren't a few obstacles. Namely there’s Bobby (Shannon), a desperate cop with a serious gambling problem. He’s intent on getting that envelope for himself. Lots and lots of bike riding ensues.

There are a couple of cat-and-mouse games going on. This is where Premium Rush excels. First and foremost is the aforementioned one between Wilee and Bobby. Next, but no less fun, is between Wilee and a legit bicycle cop. Watching our hero try to elude both is highly entertaining. These, along with our dirty cop mishandling his debtors, provides us with the film’s action and does an excellent job of it. The contents of the envelope and the story behind it gives us its heart. It works enough for us to root for its safe delivery.

Where PR sputters is when its attentions turn to the love story stuck in its spokes. It is an awkwardly handled triangle with fellow bike messenger Manny (Parks) vying with Wylie for Vanessa’s attention. Oh, I forgot to mention she’s also a messenger. It mostly involves each guy yelling their case at her then trying to force their lips on her. Who says romance is dead? Truthfully, this could sorta work if performed properly. Unfortunately, the line deliveries of both Ramirez and Parks leave a lot to be desired. Assuming it is actually them we see riding through the streets, they’re better cyclists than actors. At least they are in this movie.

The only other issue is time. We effectively jump back and forth within it on the day in question. Each leap backwards reveals enough of the story to keep us engaged. The problem comes when we start getting close to our deadline. You know how in some movies the hero has thirty seconds to diffuse a bomb and takes ten minutes before he gets it done with one second left on the clock? Yeah, sort of like that.

In the grand scheme of things, the problems I've mentioned are really small. They don’t subtract from our enjoyment of PR. Watching all the bike stunts is fairly exhilarating and the whole thing moves at a brisk pace. Down time is kept to a minimum and surprisingly so is stupidity, aside from the finale I mentioned above. This should quench the thirst of all you action junkies.

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