“I can’t work in an office. I don’t like wearing suits. I like to ride. Fixed gear, steel frame, no brakes. The bike cannot coast. The pedals never stop turning. Can’t stop. Don’t want to either. There are 1,500 bike messengers on the streets of New York City. You can e-mail it, FedEx it, fax it, scan it, but when none of that shit works and this thing has to be at that place by this time, you need us.”
This is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character of Wiley delivering the opening narration to set up the film and to explain why he does what he does. Wiley is a bike messenger in New York. A low paid, high risk job that he thrives off. So much so that he doesn’t have brakes on his bike as he claims they are more dangerous than anything.
During one particularly busy day Wiley is assigned to collect a letter from a university that requires delivery to an address by 7pm. Not long after he collects the letter he is approached by a peculiar character (Michael Shannon) on the university grounds who asks him to return the letter to him as there has been a mistake. Wiley refuses and sets off to deliver the letter, but finds out that he is being pursued by Shannon’s character setting him off on an action packed ride through deceit, deception and the truth.
David Koepp has taken the action genre and transferred it to two wheeled vehicles in this excellent movie. The direction and use of CGI mapping styles add impact to a great and yet simple storyline. We see Wiley program his route into a Blackberry phone and the filming becomes a route planner with a bird’s eye view of Manhattan showing the destination. The camera drops down and the route map then becomes the action as we join him on the dangerous maze through the concrete jungle. There are times during the film that Wiley comes across a situation and the action slows so he can judge his options. Here follows three possible routes through the tangle of cars and vans two of which don’t fare well for our hero, the third being the safest and pain free option which he unsurprisingly takes. It’s a clever use of filming.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt can turn his hand to anything and what you receive is a stunning performance in whichever guise he is playing. His cockiness and disregard for danger really shines through in his performance and encapsulates the role of Wiley as his own.
Michael Shannon plays Bobby Monday who is out to stop the delivery of the letter that Wiley holds by any means possible. Shannon brings a new version of a bad guy to the screen with a slightly disturbing nature. He really emphasizes the imbalanced characteristics of a man desperate to intervene the dispatch and with it brings his own schizophrenic balance possibly through emotions that were unscripted.
The cast is balanced nicely with two of the other characters in Wiley’s life. Dania Ramirez plays Vanessa the love interest alongside the rival and ‘friend’ Wolé Parks who plays Manny. Manny is a character always out to best Wiley and be better and faster than he is. Parks is a relatively unknown actor who grips the opportunity to shine in this role.
The transaction of action movie to the fast paced world of bicycle couriers is a new theme, but one that ultimately pays off leaving us with a truly gripping action movie that ticks all the boxes of this genre.
Premium Rush will definitely leave you on the edge of your saddle.