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Review: Premium Rush: action's new game changer

It’s a new take on the many car chases throughout New York City, but no matter how familiar the plotline might seem, Premium Rush, a new action film from Columbia Picture, opened on August 24, and satisfies with a likable main character and crisp turns.

Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a New York bike messenger who gets into trouble after a mysterious delivery. [Photo: Columbia Pictures]
Premium Rush is one of those movies that manages to find an everyday occurrence and turn it into a fresh, thrilling, new flick with an interesting twist. Dodging speeding cars, angry cab drivers, and millions of cranky pedestrians is just another average day in Wilee’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) line of work.

Wilee is one of New York’s finest bike messengers, one of the agile and aggressive risking their lives to deliver packages in the traffic-populated city. Halfway through the movie, or even 10 minutes in, audience members may be convinced that these cyclists are half thrill seekers and half suicidal nutcases. Indeed, this hero of Rush is a bike messenger who is faster, cockier, and more fearless than any other. His name is a direct reference to Wilee from Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

But a guy who risks his life daily will get more than he bargained for when a routine pickup turns into a deadly chase through the lower streets of Manhattan. Wilee picks up a package from his ex-girlfriend’s roommate, a mysterious envelope containing a ticket that he has to deliver all the way to Chinatown. Before he can start his journey, however, Wilee is confronted by Bobby Monday (Shannon), a thuggish NYPD officer who demands he hands the ticket over. Wilee will spend the rest of the movie desperately trying to deliver his package, although the plot only spans a couple of hours.

Director David Koepp takes an unconventional view on the familiar car chase through NY, and puts a spin to it with new perspectives from extreme cyclists. The key to Premium Rush is that there is close to no trickery, the movie is “96 percent” computer alternation free, which makes the journey feel genuine as opposed to the implausible action scenes that dominate today’s box office.

Premium Rush earns its place on the summer’s list of surprisingly quality movies, a game changer for conventional action movies. It’s a movie-as-a-ride, one that could be successfully turned into a studio park ride, complete with honking taxis and stomach dropping turns. The pace of the movie is astounding, the audience is barely given time to digest what’s going on before another sharp turn is hoisted upon them. Unlike most films these days, at least Rush lives up to its name. Levitt plays a convincing Willee, and manages to pull off the cocky, likable role that the movie requires. He comes off as just another Average Joe among the millions in New York, having bested the antagonist and successful in getting the girl.
Another spark in this movie is Shannon, who plays Bobby Monday with a kind of hilarious fury, an NYPD cop gone off the rails in order to pay his debts. He portrays Monday as an over-the-top sociopath, that one just can’t help but laugh at.

The only spectacular letdown that occurs in this film is the far too easy ending, in comparison to the other ambitious events in the movie.  One gets the feeling that the producers had no ideas to end the film in an interesting way, and so resorted to their easy fallback option.

Premium Rush speeds along just like any other high speed chase movie, but it is enhanced by a good cast and a new perspective. Never mind the logic of the plot, feel the breeze of the chase.

Premium Rush, Directed by David Koepp
With: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jamie Chung, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez
Premium Rush speeds along just like any other high speed chase movie, with the exception of it’s fantastic cast and an interesting new perspective.  8/10

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