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Premium Rush: The Bike Messenger as Action Hero?

Gordon-Levitt's sincere performance as this likable underdog, however, is a total mismatch with that of Shannon, who laughs like Jack Nicholson's Joker and seems to think he's in a campy movie about an inept madman. Never for a moment does he seem sinister or menacing; instead, he's just a big goofball who has no chance against his zippy little prey. And whereas it's not hard to believe a cop might rack up a few gambling debts, Monday's other behavior (like killing someone in broad daylight in front of witnesses, and with no hope of backup from fellow cops) is far beyond the pale. Monday isn't so much despicable as he is absurd.

The plot of Premium Rush holds up poorly, but at least it has youthful spirit, like an X-Games splashed all over the big screen. It's not hard to picture teens coming out of it jazzed on danger and thinking, “Bike messengering is where it's at!” the way kids of another generation wanted to be cowboys or astronauts or soldiers. I guess that tells you a lot about where America is today: In a scene set in a bar, messengers sit around and swap tales about all of the trash barrels they jumped over on their bikes, or all the cab doors they smashed into. Heroics have been defined down, all the way to mere thrill-seeking.


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