Monday, December 10, 2012

Flick of The Day: Premium Rush

2012 has been a big year for American actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, there was his crucial and justly lauded turn in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, followed by the mind bending science fiction action of Looper alongside Bruce Willis and he is currently filling the screen space opposite Daniel Day Lewis in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln however perhaps his best performance of the year is in the little seen recent release Premium Rush about bike couriers on the streets of New York.
Levitt is a recent law school graduate named Wilee who spends his days in the (supposedly) high octane world of bike couriers criss crossing the streets of Manhattan as he delivers and collects his packages. It turns out to be an interesting sub culture and David Koepp's fast paced storytelling is well suited to pulling the audience into the this otherwise unseen brotherhood of wheelies. One afternoon Wilee arrives to collect a package with a difference.  This letter contains something which corrupt cop Bobby Monday played by the excellent Michael Shannon is desperate to get his hands on. There is a whole sub plot involving money laundering and people trafficking which explains the letter but I'm not going to bore you with it. It's merely a MacGuffin to drive the film on. All you need to know is that Wilee has it and Monday wants its, so begins a chase across the streets of Manhattan.
Levitt excels in the role of the underachiever with a clear moral code. Wilee may not be making the right decisions in his own life but he knows what the right thing to do is and puts himself on the line accordingly. The other impressive aspect of his performance is the sheer amount of fitness required for it. The cycling chase scenes are spectacular at times and they rely largely on Levitt's skill at the wheel. Michael Shannon's role is perhaps underwritten and we know nothing other than he faces a gambling debt and needs to score a large some of money in short order. Shannon is perhaps the best character actor in American cinema today though and he brings a gruff realism to the role.
The film is slight at barely 90 minutes and there isn't really and fat on the script that I can see but its fast paced nature never really lets up even in the flashback scenes and the film is all the better for it. It's enjoyable and it doesn't hang around long enough to overstay its welcome. Director David Koepp made his name as a screenwriter with a credit list of blockbusters that has to be seen to be believed but after 1999's Stir of Echoes and 2008's Ghost Town, this confirms his talent as a director of intelligent mainstream cinema.
All in all, this is an enjoyable break neck chase movie that makes the most of a talented cast and some excellent cinematography. The backdrop of the Manhattan streets is the perfect setting for such a high octane thriller as we have seen countless times for. A fine film.

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