Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes to the streets with a bicycle in David Koepp’s fun and energetic Premium Rush. Unlike most late-summer films this one excels solely on its ability to have fun and provide you with a harmless way to kill an hour and a half. Premium Rush is rarely serious and instead a creative and sometimes exciting career booster for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the always fantastic Michael Shannon.
Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives life in the fast lane. He’s a bike messenger and he absolutely loves the edge-of-your-seat lifestyle that he embodies, while fearing those that spend their days behind a desk wearing a fancy suit. He sports a plain bike, with no breaks or gears. It’s this way of living that drives him face-first into what seems to be another ordinary assignment of transporting an envelope from location A to location B.
He of course gets sideswiped by Officer Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon); a hot-head cop with an addictive gambling personality. Monday is in debt with the wrong people and he needs to intercept the envelope before Wilee delivers.
Frequent screenplay writer David Koepp steps behind the lens to direct Premium Rush with a hefty amount of creativity and energy. For starters, the film gets going quickly and never lets up. Koepp fills the screen with exciting shots and creative scenarios almost always, never losing focus on the film that he’s trying to make. Not once does the film take a break to over indulge in the seriousness of the story. It gets the point across that the situation could be deadly, but that never refrains the actual film from being light and silly.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt steps in as the leader of the film and he plays Wilee with young energy and charm. Fans will only continue to love him after seeing this one, while onlookers might be surprised by just how believable he is as the leading man. He doesn’t move mountains or deliver an extraordinary performance, but he gives the young punk that he’s playing a perfect balance of humor, edge and excitement. After this, Looper and The Dark Knight Rises I think I’m willing to accept JGL as a staple actor in Hollywood.
The real miracle worker is Michael Shannon and his character Monday. Shannon is known for recently giving some Oscar-worthy performances, but in Premium Rush he shows that he can still play over-the-top and crazy with that same amount of effectiveness. Monday is basically a cartoon character bad guy with his thick accent and awkward grunts and groans, but he’s still slightly scary because of his sudden fits of rage and anger. Shannon gives you something to look forward to in Monday, even if the character is written a little thin.
Premium Rush deserves much more attention than it received when it was released theatrically back in August. It’s not nearly as bad as the marketing suggests and it’s also a lot less silly than you’d think. Director David Koepp fills it with comedy and action in even doses, while mixing up the camera work and getting really creative with some shots. Moments of the film reminded me of much lighter and tamer version of Crank, because of how much high-octane speed and adrenaline can be found being pumped into any given scene. Premium Rush has no business being as good as it is, but I’ll take that as a sign of good things to come from Koepp, JGL and Shannon.
This is another new release Sony title, which means Premium Rush looks absolutely stunning on Blu-Ray. The 1080p transfer is dripping with fine detail and vibrant colors as JGL goes cruising across the colorful NYC. He visits various locations, all of which are defined with the utmost clarity and fine intricacy. Skin tones are strong and natural, while black levels are deep and textures are heavy.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is always moving and always soaking in the city’s constant noise. Dialogue and musical cues are loud and focused. City ambiance and environmental sounds are always alive and present on the back channels to remind you that you’re listening to a 5.1 audio mix and not some diluted 2.1 mix.
The disc’s biggest problem is the special features. There aren’t too many and it’s kind of a bummer. Here’s a full list of bonus content found:
- The Starting Line (HD)
- Behind the Wheels (HD)
- Previews (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Premium Rush really has no business being this good. It’s not a perfect action thriller, but it’s not as cheesy or as dumb as trailers might suggest. It firmly rests in the middle, being a creative and fun little film that should have been watched by more. I have no problem suggesting this strongly as a rental, because the film itself is good and worth a watch or two, but the lack of bonus material really makes it hard to suggest adding this one to your collection.