Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: Premium Rush

I was kind of debating whether or not to write this review, since I’ve got a podcast review going up tomorrow, but since I imagine not many of you want to listen to my podcasts, well here go:

Premium Rush is probably going to be a movie I use as a counterpoint to the accusation that I only like movies that are ‘about’ something for a while. Premium Rush is a perfectly serviceable, well made, engaging and enjoyable chase movie, with essentially nothing on it’s mind. But I still liked it quite a bit and I’m certainly going to recommend it.

For the record, the plot is concerned with Joseph Gordon Levitt as Wilee (Ha-ha), a bike messenger working in New York City (are there bike messengers in other cities? I’m honestly asking, I don’t know).  He is given a package to deliver in Chinatown which runs him afoul of a corrupt cop looking to steal the package for himself.

Any and all strength this movie has comes from its location and subject matter. The bike chase scenes are really impressive, from a unique car/bike chase towards the beginning (which acknowledges the issues one would have driving a car in a chase in New York city) to a well done BMX style chase towards the end. The movie is also clearly in love with it’s location and as someone who has lived in NYC and will be living in NYC again by next week, I can confirm it’s fairly accurate to the location.

The acting is clearly designed for a movie exactly like it is, especially Michael Shannon’s scenery chewing villain performance. Joseph Gordon Levitt, who’s been having a good couple of years (and well deserved, he’s a great actor) manages to really sell his character. A couple of the minor characters are more problematic, such as Wole Parks as a rival bike messenger, but we’ll get to that in the moment.

What really elevates this above it’s light and breezy subject matter, is the direction. Aside from the well shot and edited chase scenes, the movie chooses an interestingly bright color scheme, most likely to reflect it’s slightly cartoonish style. And it must be said, a recurring gimmick where Wilee sees the different options he has and what will happen if he takes each one, provides some the films best and most unique moments.

Okay okay, issues: As I said, there are issues with Wole Parks rival character, as he seems to be arbitrarily villainous to ramp up the stakes late in the 2nd act. It has also has a minor case of Iron Man syndrome, where the late movie action/chase sequences are nowhere near as good as the early ones. And it must be said that while the script is not BAD in the strictest sense, it is kind of lazy.

But as I said, I quite liked this movie. David Koepp is a good director, always has been, and this is a solid late-August action movie. So if you’re in the mood for a light and well made movie right now, this would be my recommendation. See you next time.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he doesn’t know how anyone drives in the New York City.

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