‘Rush’ is a crazy ride start to finish
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
I’ve seen them myself. They flit between cars like hummingbirds, their legs moving so fast you can barely see them pumping those pedals. They’re fearless and determined and the only guaranteed way to send packages quickly and safely through New York City’s traffic-clogged streets.
But I’ve never seen anyone quite like Wilee, the bike messenger in director David Koepp’s Premium Rush. Played by the always-handsome Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Wilee doesn’t believe in brakes or gears, riding what’s called a “fixie,” a bike that has only one gear attached to the back wheel. He has a sixth sense for finding his way between oncoming taxicabs, speeding sedans and slow-moving pedestrians. He lives to ride, and boy, is he good at it.
Having dropped out of law school, Wilee now works full time delivering high-security items around the city. He’s the best there is, which is why his dispatcher gives him the most important delivery of the day: a premium rush.
After picking up the premium rush, an envelope from his friend Nima (Jamie Chung), he finds himself being pursued by NYPD Detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon). Monday is merciless and unyielding in his chase that includes a cringe-worthy stint against the flow of traffic on a one-way street and an obstacle course of construction work, orange striped blockades and all. But Shannon’s portrayal of the evil cop is also hilarious, with the bulging eyes reminiscent of Jeffrey Jones as Principal Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the cuss-littered vocabulary of Paul Gleason as Principal Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club.
It’s your average game of cat and mouse with a few stunts that will take your breath away. The plot is easy to follow, and the contents of the trouble-making package remain a mystery until just the right moment.
While the characters’ back-stories are practically non-existent, the situation creates a tangible sense of desperation that replaces the need for a deeper connection to Wilee and his friends. You worry for Nima because she seems to be in over her head. You angrily curse Wilee’s nemesis, fellow biker Manny (Wolé Parks) for delaying the end goal. You cheer for the romance between Wilee and Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) because, well, JGL is gorgeous, and Ramirez isn’t too bad herself.
The cinematography of Premium Rush keeps the film’s audience engaged, with quick cuts, point of view shots and constantly changing camera angles. The graphics that map out the city are sharp, and the ticking clock in the bottom right corner of the screen helps to spoon-feed plot points that might otherwise leave the audience in the dust.
My only complaint about the film is that it is a bit draining to speed across the city for a run-time of 91 minutes (but that’s also an accomplishment for Koepp, since you actually feel like you are speeding across the city for 91 minutes). Unfortunately for Columbia Pictures, this could lead to a poor reception post-theatrical run, since fans of the big-screen adrenaline rush might not want to re-watch the exhausting adventure now that we know how it ends.
But since it just opened Aug. 24, you still have a chance to see it in theaters, and I definitely think you should. But don’t forget your helmet.