When I first saw the previews for this movie I knew I wanted to see it. First for the obvious reason, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but it also seemed like it would be an interesting concept. Kind of like the movie 16 Blocks but with bikes. If nothing else, I thought, there should be some really cool stunts. But I wavered on seeing it in the theater, what if it was a one bike-trick pony with no substance? Now I wish I had seen it in the theater.
Premium Rush follows a group of bike messengers through the streets of New York city. Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to do a “premium rush” delivery of a envelope across the city to Chinatown; he has ninety minutes. But Detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) also wants what’s in the envelope for entirely illegal reasons and is chasing Wilee across town to get it. Now if the story completely just focused on these two it would be a bit boring after awhile but it doesn’t. I call this a light thriller because as much as it focused on the plot involving the envelope there is a lot of focus as well on the day-to-day of a bike messenger, the relationship issues between Wilee and Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), as well as his competition with fellow messenger, the very egotistical Manny (Wole’ Park). Since this movie is filmed in close to real time it doesn’t dwell on being overly dramatic because with the location constantly changing there isn’t enough time.
One thing interesting about this movie is the violence. There isn’t the type of violence you would usually expect from an action/thriller. Meaning there is nothing really in the way of gun violence or hand-to-hand fighting. That’s not to say that this movie is all fluffy bunnies and rainbows, imagine a at most ten pound bike zipping thorough a crowded moving maze of congested New York traffic. Violent things are going to happen.
Even with the interesting story and sub plots this movie still could’ve been boring. However the way this was filmed proved to be on of it’s best assets. Using some visual elements that reminded me of Guy Ritchie, this movie pulls you into story. Mapping the routes taken, using interesting camera angles so that you feel like you are right beside the bike or in the drivers seat, giving us a visual representation of what’s going on in the bikers mind, all work together to make you part of the movie.
You know, on the other hand, it’s probably good I didn’t see this in the theater. I found myself doing a lot of talking to the screen plus reacting loudly to the crashes, flips, and did-you-see-that action. Maybe everyone else would have been doing that as well, or maybe I’d have gotten kicked out of the theater.