Movie review: ‘Premium Rush’ delivers more than packages

By Brent Stenstrom

What happens when a fearless bike messenger, a crooked cop and cut throat Chinese gangsters are all thrown into the labyrinth that is New York City?

“Premium Rush.”

In the hustle and bustle of New York City, there are almost limitless suit and tie jobs, but more than 1,500 brave men and women take to the streets as messenger carriers. Instead of being locked in a cage of an office, these brave men and women risk their lives to deliver whatever whenever to wherever.

The main characters in “Premium Rush” include three of these courageous bikers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“The Dark Knight Rises”) plays main character Wilee, a law school graduate who never took the bar but now is the top gun when it comes to delivering packages in the Big Apple.

Vanessa, Wilee’s ex-girlfriend (Dania Ramirez, “X-Men: The Last Stand”) plays an important role as she helps Wilee navigate his way through the treacherous city streets as they do their best to dodge cabs, cops and pedestrians. Adding to craziness, Michael Shannon (“Boardwalk Empire”) plays Detective Bobby Monday.

The movie begins in the middle as Wilee is flying through the air after being hit by a car. Then, it rewinds the clock in this real time heart-pounding day.

As the movie goes on, we learn the ins and outs of the mail-carrier lifestyle in New York, but suddenly when Wilee gets a job to go pick up a package from his alma mater, everything changes.

Monday becomes a major nuisance to Wilee and Vanessa as they try to deliver the package on time.

Visually, the movie delivers a quite different view of Manhattan. During some scenes, the rider would put in the address of his delivery, and it would transition to a Global Positioning Device type view of the island, and show the route that messenger would follow.

Another interesting characteristic “Premium Rush” delivered were a variety of chase scenes. Nothing is more boring than watching the same pattern chase scene, but this film surprisingly pulled off the chase scenes stupendously.

Compared to “The Bourne Legacy,” where the chase scenes are just one continuous shot of Cross driving and running away from his enemies, “Premium Rush” shows Wilee riding his bike and hiding during chase scenes. Although there are no real big explosions or shoot-outs, “Premium Rush” outperforms many of its competitors with a fresh look at what it would be like to be a bike messenger trying to get across Manhattan in one piece to deliver the package.

The non-linear editing in “Premium Rush” is a delectable change from the lackluster suspense movies that follow the basic cause and effect plotline. Although at times it got confusing, the movie quickly brought me back, leaving me wanting more tires skidding across the asphalt as Wilee and Vanessa rode for their lives in one of America’s most dangerous cities.

The rapid editing combined with the hectic streets of Manhattan kept me more interested in the plot than I expected going into the movie. Another captivating touch was when director, David Koepp (“Ghost Town,” “Secret Window”) capitalized on the scurrying New Yorkers, giving the impression that everything in the movie was happening now.

“Premium Rush” has mostly upsides, but I was not impressed with the special effects. In this day and age, there is no excuse for bad special effects.

The chase scenes were done with jaw-dropping pace and accuracy, but when you can clearly tell it’s a stunt double riding a bike, it’s just not exciting to see because you know it is fake.

The movie shocked me with its editing, original chase scenes and all the small things that make a movie “good,” but it was lacking in effects. “Premium Rush” pushes viewers to edge of their seats, leaving them wanting more tire-skidding action.

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