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Chris: Definitely.
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Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Movie Review: PREMIUM RUSH

Director: David Koepp
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung

Dodging taxis, cars, and buses all seem to be part of the norm for your standard bicycle riding courier. Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is a veteran at this job and knows New York City like the back of his hand. When he gets into a bind, he can foresee multiple plans of attack to see which one of them won't get him run over by a bus or car. He picks up an envelope from his ex-girlfriend’s roommate Nima (Chung) at the university. Bobby Monday (Shannon) approaches him as he is about to leave campus demanding to have the envelope. Wilee does not hand it over as that would be against the security policies he has with his position. Wilee bikes off and escapes only to find out Monday is on his tail. He dodges him again and heads toward the police precinct. He witnesses Monday walking in a little bit after he did. He is a member of the NYPD that has more up his sleeve than your standard police duties. He happens to be a member of an underground Chinese gambling ring.

This is the kind of movie where the less you know going in keeps you on the edge of your seat. Director and screenwriter David Koepp has made a taut chase movie. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of chase movies this summer with your action hero on the run. Premium Rush does is right. Koepp keeps the action going by telling the story in a non-linear fashion. As you go back to various points in the day, you learn more and more about what the envelope is carrying and why it is so important to Nima. The biking and chases seem very realistic in the ever crowded streets of New York City. I don't think the story would have worked if it was set in another location. The busy lifestyle cranks the adrenaline into high gear as the characters could be run over or slammed into at any moment. The story takes place all in one day, so there is not much in the way of character development. This is just one day in the life of Wilee. You do not find out much about his past or what his ultimate motivations in life are. More information is given about the Bobby Monday character than Wilee. With this kind of film, you don't need to know any of that.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is having a strong year. This is his second movie of the year following the brilliant The Dark Knight Rises. He has two more movies slated for release. Looper with Bruce Willis opens in late September and Spielberg’s epic, Lincoln, will be released in November. I have been following his work for years and truly think he is one of the most versatile and daring actors of his generation working today. He has been successful in romantic comedies, action movies, heavy dramas, big blockbusters, and even smaller independent movies. It should be noted he did a lot of his own stunt work in this movie which provided some interesting footage during the closing credits. Michael Shannon is devilishly evil as the loathsome and ruthless Monday. Premium Rush has delivered a fast-paced, 90 minute joy ride that is just perfect for the end of the summer blockbuster season. It gives an interesting look into the sub culture of bicycle couriers that I knew very little about.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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