Premium Rush is an annoying movie. It’s not the fault of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who stars as NYC bike messenger Wilee (as in Coyote), or Michael Shannon, who plays the villainous cop Bobby Monday. They are both good actors and do a very good job. The annoyance is squarely the fault of screenwriters David Koepp and John Kamps. In fact, Koepp the director should sock Koepp the writer in the nose for ruining many good bike action sequences at the service of such an idiotic story.
The story involves Wilee riding like a maniac through NYC to deliver an envelope that Monday wants to take away from him. Despite having the whole of the city to ride around in, Wilee continually intersects with Monday, with his ex-girlfriend bike messenger (Dania Ramirez), and a rival messenger (Wole Parks.) Have you ever tried to find someone even when you agreed to meet at a certain place? Sometimes it’s tough, but these four keep bumping into each other all over the city. Koepp and Kamps use a flashback structure so things get explained by going back in time and showing scenes that shed light on who is doing what and why. It’s a good structure, and like the action scenes, is wasted on a dumb story.
Dumb fun is great and not every script needs to be Hamlet, but this one strains credulity a bit too much. And this is coming from a guy who had to look up “credulity” to make sure he was using it correctly. If you are yelling at the screen saying things like, “Why doesn’t she just take the subway to deliver the envelope, she’d get there in about five minutes” or “How is it possible that after turning down three streets the bad guy sees the good guy a block away in heavy traffic,” or “How many cops are in this city anyway, why can’t anyone help that bike cop!” or “There is no freakin’ way he gets out of that impound lot like that,” then it’s hard to enjoy the dumb fun.
The dumbness is hard to get through and the characters are also annoying. Wilee continually calls Monday a “douchebag” but the real douchebags are the bike messenger characters, who complain about pedestrians being “a menace” while the messengers run red lights, ride on the sidewalk, weave in and out of traffic, laughing as cars skid, screech and honk. The most enjoyable part of the whole movie is when one of the messengers goes flying over their handlebars.
There is a problem when the villain is your favorite character. You have to like the protagonist at leas a bit and I just couldn’t like Wilee that much, as he giggled whenever he flew threw a red light. Plus, his ex is pissed at him for not using his law degree by taking the bar. He thinks wearing a suit will kill him, but then why did he go to law school at all? Isn’t the student debt crushing him? It’s just another plot hole in a movie full of them.
Sometimes movies, especially action movies, can redeem their mediocre-ness with an amazing Blu-ray release. You know, a commentary, tons of extras, maybe something that you can do on your tablet, amazing picture and sound. Premium Rush, sadly, has none of that except great picture and sound. So the mediocre-ness continues.
The disc includes two decent but unspectacular extras. They total a decent 20 minutes, but that is all buyers get. The first, “The Starting Line,” focuses primarily on the story, cast, and filmmakers. David Koepp, John Kamps, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt provide most of the interview fodder, along with some of the story ideas, behind-the-scenes shots, and discussion of the bike training. It’s very basic but it gets the job done. If it had been the beginning of a long group of more technical extras, it might have been fine.
The other extra “Behind the Wheels” looks at the bike stuff naturally. This is mildly interesting but not particularly in-depth. We see plenty of how Wilee had a bunch of stunt riders and they all specialized in something different. No “here’s how we did this cool thing” type of info. Not that that is required, but the bike riding is probably the most enjoyable thing in the movie, so why not show it off a bit?
So, other than an electronic copy to watch on your portable device, you get very little. A wasted opportunity, much like the movie itself. Bike junkies and those who put action sequences above all might enjoy this film, but everyone else should probably avoid it.