Premium Rush Review

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Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is a bicycle courier on the wild streets of Manhattan. Just as his working day’s about to end he’s assigned one more urgent package to deliver. But this package is also wanted by Bobby (Shannon), a man who will resort to anything to


The greatest challenge of Premium Rush is that its heroes are the sort of people whose deaths drivers and pedestrians alike quietly, guiltily plot as they disobey every rule of the road and run through red lights as if they were a suggestion. They are bicycle couriers, young people to whom speed limits are a challenge and pedestrians something to be mown down for points.

Yet you do warm to them. Or more specifically, you warm to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Wilee, a rider who doesn’t believe in brakes and has been trusted with delivering a package that contains something of great importance and secrecy. Wilee’s name should give you a good idea of the tone of the film. At one point someone even asks, “Wilee? Like the coyote?” Yes, just like Looney Tunes. This all plays like a cartoon: incredibly simple on plot, even if it does try to make it seem more complex by jumping around with flashbacks; extremely fast-paced; and with characters who are all very definitely good guys or bad guys.

Wilee, of course, is not actually the coyote; he is the Road Runner.The coyote to Wilee’s... weird blue bird is Michael Shannon as Bobby, a man trying to intercept the package in order to get himself out of a very sticky and probably very fatal situation. Bobby is the sort of dedicated, enthusiastically evil villain you’d typically find tying damsels to train tracks. Shannon squeezes everything out of it, hitting a good 7 on the Wheel-O-Crazy (Nicolas Cage in anything since about 2005 being the perfect 10). In almost any other movie it would be too much, but here it’s just right. It is a joy to despise him.

David Koepp moves everything thrillingly. About 90 per cent of scenes take place in excess of the speed limit, weaving perilously through Manhattan’s notoriously lawless streets. There are huge holes in its logic, but to poke around in these holes would be to overthink something that demands none. However, having kept everything so light, Koepp makes an odd choice in the ending. It’s out of step with the tone of everything that’s gone before; not enough to spoil it, but still needlessly vicious. When the ride finally comes to a halt, nobody wants it to be with a jolting crash.

A movie that while thin and silly, moves with such joyous speed that you almost want to throw your arms in the air and scream.