This long-delayed NY cycle courier caper will not be seen as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's finest hour.
The world’s most irritating form of transport gets the year’s most annoying film in David Koepp’s Premium Rush, a movie about fixed-gear bike couriers who tear-ass around New York City delivering packages and menacing honest citizens. It also features literally the worst piece of dialogue in the history of cinema, delivered by Dania Ramirez, who picks up the phone and yells, "I need a flashmob, like, five minutes ago!"
No, sweetie, you needed a flashmob, like, five years ago if you wanted to sound relevant. Ironically for a film in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt dispenses such jewels as, "The bike wants to go fast!" and, "Brakes are death!" everything about Premium Rush feels out of time. Koepp dabbles with a kind of ‘lite’ videogames vibe reminiscent of Crazy Taxi, and there’s a nod towards the cell phone culture that’s got the ‘kids’ going crazy. But it’s all desperately rote and joyless.
In a happier time, Premium Rush would have been an '80s VHS classic starring John Candy and some fresh-faced brats sticking it to The Man before saving the bike shop and partying out the final credits with a beach-front luau. Here, we’re left with JGL vainly wise-cracking his way through a ludicrous script that sees him taking on Michael Shannon’s corrupt cop while helping to reunite a (legal!) Chinese immigrant family.
Gordon-Levitt’s courier may be the one called ‘Wilee’ (as in ‘coyote’), but Shannon is the cartoon character in this debacle, essaying the kind of gurning non-role that you thought he’d stopped taking two years ago. And here’s the thing: he did. Premium Rush has actually been sitting on a shelf while the filmmakers resolved a copyright lawsuit. That little brouhaha is, alas, far more dramatic than anything that has actually made it to the screen.
Koepp, better known as a top tier writer- for-hire, throws plenty of tricks at the screen, and he has DP Mitchell Amundsen (a fellow big-budget pro) saturate everything in vivid primary colours. But there’s little sense of pace despite countless shots of spinning wheels. Fixed-gear bikes might not be able to coast, but filmmakers? That’s another matter.
Lot’s of excitement for this one. In 2010.
A VHS classic from another age, but times have changed.