By Wilson Morales
For the month of August, most of the films that are released are usually summer throwaways. With the exception of some good but small independent films and a few possible Oscar candidates, like last year’s ‘The Help,’ what we mostly see in theaters are either big action packed films or horror films. Call them mindless entertainment if need be, but every now and then, there will be one or two lighthearted, but still mindless, fun films that you can walk out of the theater and be pleased. Such is the case with ‘Premium Rush,’ a quick upbeat fun outing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is riding hot these days that even if the film is so-so he makes it work in his favor.
Set in Manhattan where the streets are forever congested, Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a Columbia grad-turned-street-messenger who gave up working in a law firm because he favors making $50 on a good run in a fast paced environment than wearing suits any day of the week. Seen as the best of his peers, he can, in a split-second, skillfully can vision an accident ready to happen if he makes the wrong turn.
Sent out to pick up and deliver a package from someone who works at Columbia University, Wilee doesn’t know what he’s getting into when he runs into a ambitious cop Det. Monday (Michael Shannon), who is hell bent on retrieving the package Wiley is couriering to a place in Chinatown.
What we then get is an endless cat and mouse pursuit where not only does Wilee have to dodge Monday throughout the busy traffic NYC streets, but he’s also involved in this small trivial love triangle between his co-workers, the lovely Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) and Manny (newcomer Wolé Parks), who’s his nearest bike competitor as well. What should have been an easy commute for the best rider amongst his peers is has become a task of staying alive while doing his job.
From the guy who wrote hits like ‘Carlito’s Way,’ ‘Jurassic Park,’ and the first ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Ghost Town,’ how did co-writer-director David Koepp get this assignment and why did he choose to accept it? Maybe it’s because he had Joseph Gordon-Levitt and that’s all needed. From ‘(500) Days of Summer,’’ G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,’ ‘Inception,’ ‘50/50,’ and this summer’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ Levitt is certainly one the most sought after young actors who’s been able prove himself critically and commercially on the big screen. He’s very charismatic, likeable and genuine believable in the role of someone who’s just want to do his job and be good at it.
As for Michael Shannon, he’s having a blast playing the tough guy. Known for a offbeat, quirky roles in a variety of films from ‘8 Mile,’ ‘World Trade Center,’ ‘Bug,’ ‘Revolutionary Road,’ and ‘Take Shelter,’ Shannon takes his role to another level, as if there were no rails for him to stop. In this totally kinetic film, his over-the-top performance actually works with the film. Like some of his other film, he’s the amusing scene stealer.
While the premise is a bit idiotic, and at a brisk 90 minutes, ‘Premium Rush’ delivers the best ride due to Gordon-Levitt and Shannon’s hilarious and appealing performances.