Now Playing: A Nice, Albeit Mild, Little ‘Rush’

I find it an utter tragedy when a movie takes an exceptionally good idea, yet through execution doesn’t fully meet its potential. For example, the concept of ‘The Happening‘ is fantastic: a contagion is passed around that causes its hosts to commit suicide. What’s not so fantastic is that the source of the toxin is the world’s population of trees. I nearly walked out when I learned that the plants were all in cahoots. ‘Man on Ledge‘ has the same problem. A guy catches the attention of the New York City by posing as a suicidal jumper, but it’s really just a distraction so that his brother can rob a building a block away. Terrible execution and a damn awful screenplay killed that one before it even got started. Those may be extreme examples. Even though I don’t loathe ‘Premium Rush’ quite that much, it’s still a similar disappointment.

I expected ‘Premium Rush’ to be a mindless bicycle-centric thrill ride – which it is – but I didn’t expect it to be tonally inconsistent and messy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays one of New York City’s 1,500 extreme adrenaline junkie bike couriers. Not unlike Jason Statham in ‘The Transporter‘, he’s given a mysterious package to protect and deliver. As talented a rider as he is, the only thing that stands between him and his destination isn’t traffic, pedestrians, the short 90-minute delivery window or fatigue, but a villain (Michael Shannon) who wants the unknown contents in his backpack. Of course, he’s willing to stop at nothing to obtain that package.

Normally, I wouldn’t expect anything at all from a title like this. But since this one stars Gordon-Levitt and Shannon, I thought that maybe it might have a few tricks up its sleeve. While the movie is filled with plenty of fun and tense content, it’s also full of filler. Its concept is contained and its budget is obviously limited, so the big, stylized, effects-filled moments are peppered between slow and seemingly long flashback sequences that show how our characters got to be where they are and how they all connect.

‘Premium Rush’ feels like it belongs among the low-budget movies from Gordon-Levitt’s past. The effects look very cheap. The plot is a little too simple. It also has a conflicting inner turmoil between the tones that it carries.

There are basically three personalities to this film and they can flip at any moment. It tries to be a big dumb popcorn flick, over-the-top and hammy, and also gritty, dark and violent, all at the same time. ‘Premium Rush’ doesn’t very work well it blends two or more of those styles in one scene.

Luckily, the overall majority of the film is plain and simple fun, which we could all use from time to time. So long as you don’t expect another completely unique Joseph Gordon-Levitt knock-out, you might walk away pleased.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


  1. It really needed to leave all the backstory (or most of it) completely out of the film. The problem really comes when they explain what he’s carrying and why it’s so dangerous. It should’ve been like the ‘Pulp Fiction’ briefcase. We don’t know and we’re not supposed to know.

  2. Barsoom Bob

    Although most people take away the same plot summary and complaint as you mentioned in regards to The Happening, I actually kind of enjoyed it and it is my 2nd or third favorite Shamalamadingdong film.

    The suicides were horrifying and graphic, and suicide is the metaphorical point, isn’t that what we are actually doing to ourselves by not being respectful of our natural world. It isn’t that we are the innocents and being attacked by the evil trees contagion, it is more a case of us reaping what we are sowing by our over consumption, pollution and disrespect for our environment.

    Okay you can all laugh and call me a tree hugger, but that is my emotional take away from that movie.

    • Chaz

      I fully agree here, if it wasnt for the HORRIBLE acting in The Happening, it could have easily been his best movie, but the script and blank expressions and some AWFUL delivery of lines (which M. Night has had in the past few movies) really brings it down, its laughable now almost as a comedy than as a serious film. I was perfectly fine with the entire concept but was dumbfounded with how bad his script and the acting were, such a shame, he went from one of the best and most potential to one of the worst 🙁

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