I saw Premium Rush this weekend. It’s about Wilee (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who’s a bike messenger in New York. He gets a delivery and from there it spirals down into a world of complications as he tries to just make the delivery. Sound simple enough right?
The good; this movie is slick, I mean it’s a fairly straight forward story, but the integrate some nice devices. Wilee uses his smart phone to plot the course to the destination, we get to see this on the big screen, it’s an advertisement for google maps, new gps and the like. What could’ve easily become a gimmick actually worked well.
Another thing they used reminded me of the Dragon’s Lair cartoon series that came out after the popular arcade game, where Dirk would imagine different scenarios of how to overcome an obstacle, this was also used much later in the CG Action Man cartoon series, but the film uses it as Wilee’s judgement on how to navigate through traffic safely.
They also incorporate non-linear editing with the way they tell the story, and I like it in this case. We start the movie with an accident shot in slow mo, the movie rewinds to earlier that day, but then it continues to do this through out the film because events are overlapping each other, it was quite impressive to see the same scene covered from a different angle at a further point in the movie.
Wilee as a character is great, Gordon-Levitt plays a very good everyman-good hearted guy. The script focuses and allows us to understand who Wilee is, his set of rules that he lives by and why he lives by them, we really got to know his motivations and routing for him wasn’t forced. I gotta hand it to Gordon-Levitt, he did a lot of peddling for this movie. They also nicely employed the use of a stunt man to do the more tricky bike stunts, this is one instance where motion blur was used to mask that fact, bravo, very well done.
The bad; this movie will under perform, I don’t know who to blame for this one.
Wilee not only has an antagonist in the form of a suit wearing Michael Shannon, but he’s also got bike messenger rival Manny. Physically this guy looks like he could out peddle Wilee any day, but his “roid” usage and multi-gear bike loses out to Wilee’s endurance and smarts. So not only is Manny the heel as a messenger but he’s also the love interests’ rival. If Manny’s role was more prominent it would’ve felt forced, but his presence was appropriate.
Overall I really enjoyed this movie, when I said that the eighties were back I meant it. Premium Rush felt very much like an eighties movie, but not of the action ilk, just more of an average Joe (pun intended) getting caught up in something crazy that interrupts his everyday world. Other movies that come to mind are Gleaming the Cube and No Way Out. Premium Rush is written and directed by David Koepp, you might know him more for the movies his written; Men in Black 3, Angels and Demons, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, War of the Worlds, Zathura, Spider-Man, Jurassic Park, The Lost World Jurassic Park… well done with Premium Rush Mister Koepp, now I know that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s failure rests all on George Lucas.
The story of this film is strong and that’s why the so called gimmicks of non-linear story telling, integrated computer usage and multiple outcomes works. Future movies, please take note, focus on the story first and don’t let the tricks be the focus.
PS. it also doesn’t hurt that the movie is bookended with Baba O’Riley by The Who, hehe.