After a steady stream of starring in indies and a slew of supporting slots in blockbusters, the summer when Joseph Gordon-Levitt took center stage spins on with his first big studio, main-event role in the movin' and groovin' Premium Rush
. The 31-year-old trading in his Robinmobile (allegedly) for a 10-speed minus nine of its gears; rip-roaring through New York as Wilee, the most reckless/fearless/half-cocked bike messenger on the mean streets of Manhattan.
With a critically important parcel nestled in his satchel, Wilee sets off to deliver it only to discover a downright dirty detective, Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), trailing close behind. It turns out, this particular "premium rush" is worth a good chunk of change and Monday wouldn't mind getting his mitts on the thing.
Now you'd think being on a bike would give Wilee a slight
advantage in New York but remarkably, Monday is able to keep up in his car; the notoriously gridlocked streets are eerily - and laughably - empty. Wilee - as in "E. Coyote" - flies down one-way streets, under bridges, through parks, but Monday's Mazda 3 will not be denied
It's an over-the-top performance from Shannon. The Academy Award-nominee goes for broke with a voice that veers into Three Stooges "Oh, a wise guy, eh?" territory on numerous occasions. Shannon tosses out the subtleties of his Take Shelter
character and rolls strictly with some serious impulse-control issues. Chewing up scenery indeed.
Zooming in and out of NYC via a cinematic version of Google Maps, David Koepp (remember the Ricky Gervais flop Ghost Town
?) adds as slick touch behind the camera. Chase scenes - while hyper-extended - are captured with exquisite skill with a heaping dose of adrenaline. Fixed-gear, zero-brake bike sales are set to soar.
How critical is sound to a film? The whole thing is nearly brought to its knees by David Sardy's abominable score. It's amongst the most generic electronica-ish tripe ever splattered across a film and it's incessant. The stench is overwhelming but considering Sardy's most recent composer credit was the sequel to Ghost Rider
, not unexpected. Something with this kind of kinetic energy needs a pulsating soundtrack to match. Give me the stuff that made Run Lola Run
Now if you do decide to make a date with Premium Rush
, the following addendum to your bucket list is a lock: "Zipping down Madison Avenue on a bike sans brakes". But be warned, you could find yourself glancing at your watch a few too many times for an action flick that clocks in at just 91 minutes in length.
Now where's my bike...