CliqueClack Flicks

Premium Rush – Old school thrilling bicycle ride through the streets of Manhattan

Premium Rush - Theater Review
Release Date: 08/24/2012 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 4 Clacks

'Premium Rush' is a high octane chase movie about corrupt cops and the Chinese mafia - it just happens to be all on bicycles.


We’ve all seen car chase movies and Chinese mafia movies, and corrupt cop movies are a dime a dozen. Even all those things together aren’t exactly unusual. Premium Rush is all of those things — but on bicycles. It’s also a lot of fun, fast-paced and with a sense of humor about itself.

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a former law student that desperately wants to avoid an office job, so he jets through the streets of New York City as a bike messenger, even eschewing brakes and gears because they hold you back and (according to him) cause accidents. And he’s good, there’s no question on that, and this movie is filled with amazing stunt work. He works alongside love interest Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) and rival Manny (Wolé Parks) — who isn’t a fan of Wilee’s nonsense, preferring speed over gears and muscles. The movie really starts when the owner/manager Raj (Aasif Mandvi) tells our hero about a job up at Columbia University.

He’s given a mysterious envelope by Chinese friend Nima (Jamie Chung, who is actually American-born of Korean descent in real life, and has a … I’ll call it a questionable Chinese accent, but that’s probably the racism of the casting directors, not her) and must bring it all the way down to Chinatown (that’s a lot of blocks). Unfortunately he runs afoul of crooked cop Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) and a “just doing his job” bike cop (Christopher Place). So we get a bunch of high speed chases with more than a few hard-hitting and painful looking crashes. Wilee begins to wonder if it’s even worth it, and then he finds out what the envelope is really all about. Good ol’ JGL is having a great year so far, although he doesn’t have much to do here, nor does really anyone else — not that sort of movie. But Michael Shannon is a lot of fun as well as the evil but crazed cop who’s slowly losing it.

This is a slickly made movie, with shiny, flashy visuals and an interesting way of playing with time and perspectives. The movie jumps back and forth throughout the day and keeps revealing new pieces of the puzzle — nothing too complicated, but it’s fun to see it all come together. There are several clever bits done with a zoomed out map of the city showing his routes, as well as a freeze framed “choose your own adventure” where Wilee sees the various ways he can get around an obstacle. Great to watch and may even cause a wince or two. Sure, the attempts at sincerity fall a little flat, and the rivalry subplot doesn’t go anywhere, but the movie seems to realize it and moves on from there quickly.

It’s a fast, enjoyable summer movie that’ll leave you with a smile. Pretty much all you can ask for this sort of thing.

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Categories: Reviews, Theater Releases

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