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Movie Review: Premium Rush

August 24, 2012

Premium Rush – A Columbia Pictures’ Release

Release Date: August 24th, 2012

Rated 14A for violence, language and tobacco use

Running time: 91 minutes

David Koepp (dir.)

David Koepp (writer)

John Kamps (writer)

David Sardy (music)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Wilee

Michael Shannon as Bobby Monday

Dania Ramirez as Vanessa

Wolé Parks as Manny

Aasif Mandvi as Raj

Jamie Chung as Nima

Anthony Chisholm as Tito

Christopher Place as Bike Cop

©Columbia Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in Premium Rush.

Our reviews below:


Premium Rush Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

The opening scene of Premium Rush takes place on the streets of New York City at 6:33 PM, as courier Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) hits a cab and flies off his bike, as the unmistakable sound of The Who plays on the soundtrack.  This expertly choreographed beginning sets the stage for the non stop pace of the film, careening back and forth between past and present as the young deliveryman “rides like hell” to beat the clock and deliver a mysterious envelope before seven at night.

The on screen clock clicks back to when the action started an hour before the opening scene, when Wilee goes to pick up an envelope from a young woman (Jamie Chung) at University.  But the package catches the attention of crooked cop Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) who will stop at nothing to retrieve the package, even if it means taking out the young guy on the Fixie bike.  Riding fixed gear with no brakes, Wilee’s vehicle of choice sometimes seems more like a death wish that draws him comparisons to the famous cartoon coyote.  With help from fellow couriers Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) and Manny (Wolé Parks), the clock is ticking if they want to have any hope of actually making the delivery.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to prove himself as a solid action star and Michael Shannon gives yet another brilliant performance as the deranged cop, and these two leading performances really help to elevate the film.  David Koepp directs the action with visual flair, as the camera smoothly follows the bikes as they weave in and out of traffic.  There is enough of a plot to keep us engaged in the characters and even provide a surprisingly effective emotional payoff, but the biggest draw of is still all of the stunt work.  The bike chases are just breathtaking, with never a dull moment between the numerous exhilarating set pieces.

At just over ninety minutes and playing out in nearly real time, Premium Rush moves at a quick pace with constant suspense, providing brisk and undeniably cool late summer entertainment.  The genuine blast of fun that the film provides simply can’t be beat.


Premium Rush Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

In Premium Rush Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a New York bicycle courier that specializes in riding a fixie (super-lightweight single gear bike with no brakes) and getting around the city at top speed.  One day, his last delivery at 5:30pm is a ‘Premium Rush’ package – one that has to be delivered as fast as possible, and no later than 7:00pm.  At first it just seems like another regular delivery, but all of a sudden whatever the envelope now in his bag holds, has people desperate to intercept the delivery, making him the object of a life and death chase across the busy streets of New York during rush hour.

Premium Rush is a film that starts and doesn’t let up – but in the best possible way.  This isn’t a shoot-em-up action movie, rather the suspense comes from the multiple chase scenes and the fact that we are trying to piece together along with Wilee why this is all happening.  There is only minimal confrontations with fairly non-graphic violence here, and of course some inevitable bicycle accidents.  Watching a chase between a car and a bike is surprisingly exhilarating, and done in such a way that the car has no advantage against the human powered vehicle of the main character.  We also get multiple bike-on-bike chases, as well as some pretty impressive trick riding.

Another thing that I quite liked about this film is the way that the graphics and editing show the way that Wilee’s mind works to sort through the ‘safest’ route through the busy streets, dodging cars, their opening doors, pedestrians, and those chasing him.  The acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also very good, as well as from Michael Shannon, who plays the guy chasing him for most of the film.  I don’t want to give away too much, as the film takes place in close to real time, and it’s fun to just go along for the ride.

In short, a fun movie to see to finish off the summer, Premium Rush features a good story and script, good performances, an interesting score by David Sardy, as well as a different, refreshing kind of action.  It’s worth the price of admission in my book.


Premium Rush Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Premium Rush is an exhilarating, nonstop action film that puts cycling into the same league as motor sports.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee, a bike courier whose name and quick thinking earns him the nickname “Coyote Man.”  When a mysterious special delivery arrives, Wilee finds himself on the run from a dirty cop (Michael Shannon) who wants the package for his own reasons.

This film is a lot of fun.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt really captures both the thrill and danger of bicycle delivery.  His bandage in the film is real and you can watch the real accident during the credits if you dare.  Premium Rush also captures the humanity of the characters, especially with Wilee and his target of delivery.  It’s all filmed in a cool and kinetic yet steady fashion.  I really liked how Wilee can visualize potential accidents, avoiding them when possible.  The chase sequences are also really cool, with tricks that only a cyclist could (with inherent risk) pull off.  Anyone who enjoys action movies or cycling will enjoy this film.


Premium Rush Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Every big city’s got them – bicycle couriers.  Those daredevil individuals who make their living weaving in and out of traffic delivering packages on a tight schedule.  In Premium Rush we’re right there with them for a nonstop action packed ride.

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of the fastest couriers around.  Fellow employee Manny (Wolé Parks) wants to take over the title, and maybe steal Wilee’s girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) who’s also a courier, as well.  The adrenaline pumping ride really kicks it up a notch when Wilee picks up a plain white envelope from Vanessa’s roomate, Nima (Jamie Chung) with instructions to deliver it to Sister Chen.  Wilee barely makes it on the road when a man named Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) tries to intercept the package.  However the rule is that once a package is picked up, delivery has to be completed no matter what.

What follows are some pretty exciting bike vs. car chases with plenty of rather impressive bicycle stunt driving.  The sense of urgency in the chases is visualized with an onscreen digital time signature and plenty of GPS-type shots of the routes each courier chooses to follow.  The shots where we see Wilee visualize various outcomes of what might happen if he chooses a particular route shows how lightning quick his mind is working.

The film doesn’t stop for one second.  Every scene matters and no time is wasted on needless plot points or excessive dialogue.  But it’s not just the exciting action sequences that make the fun to watch, it’s also the excellent performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon.  Thrilling from beginning to end, Premium Rush has viewers on the edge of their seats munching popcorn for a solid 91 minutes.


Premium Rush Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Premium Rush means top priority for the package bike courier Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to deliver downtown from Columbia University to Manhattan’s Chinatown. Even among couriers, Wilee is considered extreme on his “fixie” steel frame fixed gear bike with no freewheel (pedals always turning with wheels, permitting backward riding) and no brakes. There is a friendly rivalry between Wilee and Manny (Wolé Parks), both in riding and interest in fellow courier Vanessa (Dania Ramirez). Wilee is determined to deliver his package even if it means unwitting involvement with the Asian underworld and relentless pursuit by a bike cop (stunt man Christopher Place) and the corrupt detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon).

In just over 90 minutes, Premium Rush takes us on a thrill ride that gradually reveals its story in time stamped flashbacks over a four hour period. Except for Levitt and Shannon however, the cast and story are merely serviceable, since the real excitement in this film comes from the extensive chase scenes in and out of New York traffic. One interesting touch shows how Wilee deals with obstacles, slowing down time as he envisions alternate paths to avoid collision. Finally, Premium Rush gives us a nice glimpse into the real community that bike couriers have built around themselves.


Consensus: With stylish direction from David Koepp that is elevated by strong leading work from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon, Premium Rush is an exhilarating action film that doesn’t waste a second of the running time.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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