Premium Rush (2012)
Directed by David Koepp
One second, Joseph Gordon-Levitt spends two hours as a Gotham cop in “The Dark Knight Rises,” chasing down the accomplices of the terrorist Bane. The next, he’s peddling his hardest for an hour and a half trying to escape a cop – two, actually! – in “Premium Rush,” an 80’s lookalike live-action thrill ride.
When Wilee (2012 busyman Gordon-Levitt), a Manhattan bike messenger, is called upon to deliver a package of great importance (to more than one person) across the city, he’ll need more than a beat-up two-wheeler to get the job done. With the hammy, antagonistic dirty cop Bobby Monday (even his name indicates his wickedness) on his tail, and an NYPD bike cop trying to catch him for running red lights (or something) Wilee relies on his co-workers and friends to get the job done. But in the face of all the obstacles, time not the least of them, can Wilee make it across town before the law catches up?
The caricatured cop (Michael Shannon, by the way, overacting like it’s his job) seems to be making fun of – openly mocking, even! – his own role. A tell-tale sign of carelessness. But that wasn’t the worst of the cheesiness. I don’t even know how many delicious New York-style pizzas you could cover with the cheese of “Premium Rush” It was, like, so righteously 1980’s, dude. From the quirky aerial map graphics to the stereotyped citizens of Chinatown and the apparent need to pigeonhole each and every role, “Premium Rush” screamed 1980’s sitcom. It’s something like “Knight Rider” on two wheels. “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” meets “I Love the ’80s.”
This is not Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the top of his game. Not even close. This is a top-caliber star settling for a quick flick to fill some time. This was shot in 2010, so by that point, he had probably just finished filming Inception and hadn’t quite reached the stardom he has now. Regardless, he under-acts like hell – a feat he’s pretty used to by now. I miss the JGL of “(500) Days of Summer”…remember that? He danced, he laughed, he skipped. He was giddy! Now all we get is a robotic moneymaker.
Even if it has little regard to acting or dialogue, “Premium Rush” is exactly what it says – a rush. While JGL admits to leaving the stunts to the stunt guys (he did receive 30 stitches after a spill, though), the wicked tricks are definitely something to see. You can tell CGI from real live people doing real live stunts, and these bikers know what they’re doing. It’s, in JGL’s words, “just a fun time at a summer popcorn chase flick.” At least they know it.
A good cliché is like a diamond in the rough. “Premium Rush” recognizes this; it just stopped looking after a while. It’ll settle for corny. If you still want to get swept up in the action, take heed; you may come out of it feeling a bit more gnarly and totally rad than when you went in.