Being a bike messenger probably won't make you the most popular person on the road. You're darting in and out of traffic, coming close to hitting civilians and generally causing frustration whenever. This occupation can certainly be a difficult way to make a living, but it can be even more difficult if you're like the protagonist in Premium Rush. On this day, he's unknowingly delivering something the could change lives, and maybe even end his.
Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) spends his days on the streets of New York City delivering packages as a bike messenger. He might be the best at what he does and that's because he's a risk taker. His bike only has one gear and he refuses to employ brakes of any kind, since he believes they will get you killed on this job. Although these practices put him at risk for certain accidents he wants to keep his life and has mentally prepared for the usual threats that come with his current occupation.
But on this day, the young man who's gained a reputation for being reckless, might be in store for more than just the usual threats. After he goes on a run to receive his last envelope of the day, he runs into something different. He finds himself running for his life as he's being chased by people that seem to want him dead, whatever it is that he's carrying or both.
Going in, I was looking forward to a movie that had fast-paced, full throttle, non-stop type of action taking place. Just by watching the trailers you would think that's what you were going to get along with some potentially creative use of bikes flying through high traffic while Wilee is doing all he can to avoid all sorts of trouble. Just thinking about all of the possibilities that could from this movie was intriguing for me.
You obviously get some action with Joseph Gordon-Levitt zipping around the streets of "The Big Apple," so that's not truly an issue. The issue is that none of this action is anywhere near fantastic or even memorable. These scenes are just vanilla for the most part and don't contain anything extraordinary or all that fun. It lacks any real punch, there aren't too many bike tricks on display and there's never a sense of actual danger for any of the characters that are on the side of Gordon-Levitt.
Because of its lack of danger, Premium Rush feels it was made for release on Nickelodeon or The Disney Channel. You take out the little bit of profanity that you had, a couple of scenes and alter the very end of the film, and that's essentially what you have. Based on what I saw beforehand, I was thinking that I was going to see some things that would be similar to something like Speed or Die Hard with a Vengeance as far as pacing and energy, but it might be geared more toward teenagers. I was wrong and it looks as if their target audience was closer to pre-adolescent kids.
They didn't take many risks in creating the story for this film and it's quite obvious that they never really tried or wanted to. I figure that they threw in the profanity and that last part of the final action scene just to make it appear somewhat edgy. They had to know that this film was way too safe and it didn't deliver on what they promised in the trailers or the television advertisements.
When looking at the other aspects of the film outside of the action, it should come as no shock that there is a love story going on in Premium Rush. It sometimes feels like there's some sort of love story in every movie released these days. For some reason, I didn't think one would be in here since it's supposed to be this high adrenaline type of movie about some young guy who rides a bike around town for a living and due to the fact that it's barely even an hour and a half long.
The truth is, they used the love story to connect the primary story together with some of the characters and to fill in some of the time that would have otherwise been nothing but empty space. It's clear to me that they didn't have a bunch of ideas to work with because of this, and the very bland reasoning for everything that's taking place in the movie. As I said, the movie isn't very long. If you take out most of this extra stuff that's essentially unnecessary, you'd have something that would be lucky to reach the forty five minute mark.
Besides the love story, one of the other things that I found to be only good to consume time are the flashbacks that they use to progress the plot. They do explain the story by going back to the recent past, but they also disrupt the action that we are given an opportunity to watch. I would have preferred to see the plot unfold as the movie went on and as the audience, we could see it all unfold over time. Instead of that, they just spell it for us with these scenes and it also kills some of the suspense that could have been added.
When I step back and look at the movie, I might have expected too much from it. You're talking about a feature length film that's based on guys who ride bikes around the streets to make deliveries. How much could they possibly add to make an actual feature length movie out of something like this? After seeing it and dissecting it, that would explain why Premium Rush is so short, why they felt the need to overuse an otherwise useless love story and why they included so many scenes where they hit the rewind button to tell the back story. It looks like they just simply had a difficult time coming up with anything interesting to put in the movie.
Director: David Koepp
Film Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: August 24, 2012
Distributor: Columbia Pictures