WARNING: This post contains minor spoilers for the movie Premium Rush.
If you’re a fan of Jason Statham and/or the Transporter franchise, you might enjoy this movie. I actually enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would, but I do consider it more of a “quick fix” kind of movie.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph Gordon-Levitt did at least a good portion, if not all, of his stunts in this movie like he did in Inception (2010). He did some pretty cool stunts, and there’s one action scene that I found to be particularly memorable, and that’s when he’s doing some tricks in a chase scene at an impound.
In some ways I felt like this was the bike version of Transporter. You’ve got Gordon-Levitt’s character, Wilee (like the Coyote in Looney Toons; and yes, some references to that are made in the movie), who is supposed to transport an envelope containing something extremely valuable for the client from point A to point B. Of course, the assignment becomes a lot more complicated really fast mostly because of a dirty cop who can’t seem to kick a gambling habit.
The way the story is told, it’s kind of set up like 500 Days of Summer (2009) was in the sense that we start at a certain time, see how the events panned out, and then we get taken back in time several minutes/hours and see what else helped build up to the “present.” (I’m pretty sure other movies have done this too, but I can’t seem to think of them off the top of my head.)
I think it can be arguable whether or not the story is entirely believable. Perhaps when each element is isolated, it seems more plausible than when it’s all put together. For example, I think that thrill junkies like Wilee can exist, as well as the possibility of a dirty cop getting involved with gangsters. Maybe even on a bad day, it’s also possible to run into the same exact cop that’s been trying to arrest you multiple times in a few hours. On the other hand, the young woman’s decision to entrust something so valuable to a thrill-seeking bike messenger seemed to be a bit of a stretch. With a parcel that valuable, I think her character could have thought more carefully about how to transport it, perhaps more securely and discreetly. As for Wilee’s involvement, I suppose it depends on how one decides to look at it. From one side of the argument, one might wonder why a bike messenger who only earns so much (I believe it was just $50?) a parcel would risk their life to make the delivery. On the flip side of things, when we learn how Wilee is sort of connected to his client, it can be argued that his decision to complete the assignment makes sense. Of course those aren’t the only two theories, but I don’t think this is a movie that really calls the audience to think deeply about it.
A couple of the characters in this movie did get on my nerves, in particular Manny and Nima, the character the Asian actress plays. I’m not sure if it was Jamie Chung’s acting that bothered me or if it was just how limited her character was, though I say it’s more likely the latter. Michael Shannon did all right as the bad cop, and of course JGL did not disappoint. Oddly enough, the actor that sticks out most in my mind was more of a minor character and I think he was only meant to be comic relief, and that was this one cop on a bicycle that kept chasing JGL around for a good portion of the movie. I think I laughed pretty much every time he came on screen.
I think this movie was a little above average in that I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of a movie where there’s a high-speed bike chase (though if I’m wrong, please do correct me), but I don’t think the story was completely original either.
FINAL VERDICT: C+
Though I am a huge fan of JGL, this movie isn’t something I feel inclined to add to my shelf or feel the urge to watch again in theaters; however, if it came on again on TV or if a friend rented it for a movie night, I probably wouldn’t oppose watching it again.