'Premium Rush' – A Two-Wheeled Joy Ride
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon and Dania Ramirez, Premium Rush is a high-energy bike escape flick that keeps audiences guessing with its many subplots and fast-moving sequences. The plot revolves around Levitt's character Wilee, a bike courier in Manhattan who rejects the idea of an office job and instead opts for racing around the busy streets of New York delivering messages that for some reason or another can't be sent through e-mail, text or good-old snail mail.
The narrative traces a non-linear path, taking the audience into the middle of the conflict and then turning back to a few hours later only to switch back and forth throughout the film. This constant shift creates an unpredictability that makes the film entertaining and engaging. The conflict starts when Wilee is sent on a delivery that ends up involving the NYPD police, gambling, illegal immigration and even a murder. While delivering a deceivingly innocent-looking envelope to an address in Chinatown, Wiley is stopped by a man who frantically tells him that the plans have changed and he would like the envelope back. Being a bike courier with integrity, Wilee refuses to give up the package that easily to a mere stranger and thus begins a chaotic mess and citywide chase.
The reckless movement through hectic amounts of traffic and pedestrians makes for adrenaline-filled scenes that are a refreshing alternative to the usual car chases and explosions found in Hollywood action productions. The sequences where the camera freezes and audiences are taken into Wilee's point of view, calculating one route over another to see if his fate is either to crash or sweep through traffic, are hilariously melodramatic but give audiences insight into his character.
Levitt's callous and free-spirited Wilee, who only cares about being the best courier, is at times unlikeable, but his all too human qualities only work to bridge a connection with viewers. The amusingly petty rivalry between him and fellow courier Manny (Wole Parks) to be the fastest courier and win the heart of their shared love interest Vanessa (Ramirez) escalates into a race through Central Park. Another laugh-out-loud pairing is that of Wilee and an NYPD officer who chases him across the city only to be outwitted and outraced every single time.
Although the love triangle between Wilee, Vanessa and Manny creates somewhat interesting drama that will undoubtedly appeal to some, their relationship seems forced and designed merely to meet the romance quota. Despite their lack of chemistry, the way they come together to help their friend Nima (Jamie Chung), who is trying to get her son into the United States, is a welcomed happy ending that is less cliched than expected.
New Yorkers and those familiar with its streets will enjoy the detailed mapping of the bikers' routes as well as the street and subway shots that haven't been yet glamorized by Hollywood, but those unacquainted with the city may feel alienated and left out of what seems like insider information. But Rush's cheesy central conflict involving an unrealistically young mother and a stereotypically corrupt cop don't detract from its high entertainment value, which provides a swift escape from reality.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
"I'm really into the Avett Brothers as of late."
"My girlfriends are I - we are very nerdy. We started a book club and the first book we read was Gone Girl."
"I thought it was a great film and I thought Jennifer Lawrence was incredible, you know those angry tears, I've certainly experienced that."
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