There is an expression that goes, “never bring a knife to a gunfight.” The same should be said for bicycles in car chases. Director David Koepp attempts to introduce bicycles chases as an alternative for traditional car chases in “Premium Rush.” The film ultimately lacks horsepower with its predictable cinematic elements, dull story and bland execution of chase sequences.
Koepp, who previously directed supernatural thrillers such as “Stir of Echoes” and “Secret Window,” directed and wrote “Premium Rush.” Though he served as a supporting writer for blockbusters such as “Jurassic Park” and the original “Spider-Man” film, “Premium Rush” portrays itself simply as “The Transporter” for the BMX crowd, full of bicycle chases with young daredevils behind the pedals.
Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) — named in reference to the Wile Coyote cartoons — lives his life on a bicycle, darting between cars and pedestrians in the New York City streets to deliver packages. However, Wilee’s ordinary day takes a twist when he accepts a mysterious package, resulting in a day biking frantically from corrupt cop Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), his coworker and rival Manny (Wolé Parks) and an overzealous bicycle cop (Christopher Place).
And, like other car chase movies like “The Transporter” and “Drive,” Wilee has a change of heart after learning he holds the life of an innocent person in his hands, adding a very predictable plot element. “Premium Rush,” could have passed as a successful bicycle version of traditional car-chase films if it had strong character performances or extremely exciting action, but the film doesn’t offer much of either.
The long, linear sequences featuring bicyclists winding and weaving perilously through traffic lose intensity when they occur so frequently without incident. Most of the protagonist’s anticipated bike tricks are saved until a silly and contrived final chase through a police impound lot, where a group of cops fail to corner Wilee, despite the fact he’s in a crowded warehouse with few exits.
To appear fast paced, “Premium Rush” keeps the screen busy with many hokey, repeated CGI effects, such as the frequent appearance of delivery times and GPS maps of the city routes. CGI in the shots of Wilee’s body flying through the air come off as terribly fake, giving the body a plastic, inanimate look. And because there is almost no gore, the effect makes the body look alien.
As far as acting, Gordon-Levitt doesn’t make the mark with his overly simple main character, and Shannon makes for a cliché villain, completely devoid of evil wit. Monday’s lines and treatment of the conflict paint him as an adult-sized toddler who frequently doesn’t get what he wants.
The soundtrack includes rock bands such as The White Stripes and My Chemical Romance, and the movie opens with “Teenage Wasteland” by The Who. Though these elements as a whole could appeal to the film’s target audience, they generate too light-hearted a tone that clashes with darker moments, such as intense mafia beatdowns.
This film may offer a new take on high-speed chase movies, but its predictable story and unexciting execution bring “Premium Rush” to a crashing halt.
Overall rating: one 1/2 stars
There is an expression that goes, “never bring a knife to a gunfight.” The same should be said for bicycles in car chases. Director David Koepp attempts to introduce bicycles chases as an alternative for traditional car chases in “Premium Rush.” The film ultimately lacks horsepower with its predictable cinematic elements, dull story and bland