Even the uncharismatic Joseph Gordon Levitt, with the constantly sullen look on his face, can be infused with a hint of excitement as he rides through streets and races past cars in Premium Rush. Considering that both of the film’s main actors, the other being Michael Shannon (playing a maniacal degenerate gambler with a badge), are at risk of being typecast, it is safe to say that the bike is the unique selling proposition of David Koepp’s new film. It’s just what gives JGL the never-say-die attitude he lacks.
JGL plays Wilee, a bike messenger who loves his job too much to want to clear a pending bar exam. He ups the risk factor by riding with dysfunctional brakes and without gears. Further elevating this risk is an envelope handed to him by a young woman. As it turns out, the envelope contains something of infinite value to a crazy cop. “The rules are,” Wilee explains, “once you put it in the bag, it stays there until delivered.” Buckle up, viewer.
The chases in Premium Rush come together as a long music video intercepted by dialogue breaks. You won’t care about the envelope or the story behind the chases. You just want to see JGL on his bike. There’re only a handful of people in this film and in spite of being a sucker for characters, I was satisfied with looking at similar looking visuals of people on bikes played repeatedly, connected together in a narrative fashion. I warmed up well to the funny way the film cuts between sequences and its charming use of music. Premium Rush is fun to be part of as long as it lasts.