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Premium Rush: The Bike Messenger as Action Hero?

A weak plot and silly villain detract from inventive action and a reliable Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

by
John Boot

Bio

August 24, 2012 - 5:00 am

All of the coincidences in the screenplay are a little hard to take, and characters behave in strangely nonsensical ways. For instance, Wilee stops in a police station to report he’s being harassed by the guy he thinks is a university security official, even though it seems clear that simply waiting for a cop to speak to and filling out paperwork could easily kill the entire hour and a half he needs to deliver the envelope. This police station not only turns out to be Monday’s station house, but the villain himself walks in five minutes later.

So the direction by David Koepp (who also wrote the screenplay with John Kamps) doesn’t bother too much with anything but action, but there is plenty of it. Wilee keeps one step ahead of the pursuing cop by rocketing against traffic down one-way streets, riding his bike into little shops that he knows have exits to alleyways out back, and making nervy decisions to swerve through obstacles in everyday Manhattan traffic. In one of the better scenes, he manages to use a stolen mountain bike to escape a desolate tow yard by riding it over the roofs and hoods of all the cars the city stores there. A guy on a bike is such a small target that he can slip through almost any tight space, and the more the cops chase Wilee the more he humiliates their lumbering ways. Gordon-Levitt’s character is misnamed, though: He’s more like the Road Runner, or like Peter Rabbit forever foiling Mr. MacGregor.

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