“Premium Rush” on autopilot

 

Wilee, the main character in this weekend’s new bike messenger thriller “Premium Rush,” says he doesn’t have brakes on his bike because they end up causing more accidents than not.

That may be so, but “Premium Rush” could certainly benefit from some brakes itself.

“Rush” (PG-13, 91 Min.) is basically one long chase sequence. After an introduction from Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “The Dark Knight Rises”)’s point of view, the movie launches into a not necessarily bad, but rather oversimplified plot that involves the character’s attempt to transport a package across town in an hour and a half, known as premium rush.

Unfortunately, he’s being pursued by the mysterious Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”), a man who will stop at nothing to obtain the package. What’s in the package? Why does Monday want it? All questions are answered, but in a manner that feels like an afterthought.

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The audience sees what happened earlier in the supporting characters’ days via flashbacks — arguably the most common film method. Several times the film references Wilee’s law career, which he abandoned because he couldn’t stand to sit behind a desk, and it seems thrown into the movie simply as a plot device not to be explored.

Two fellow bikers, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez, “American Reunion”) and Manny (Wole Parks, TV’s “Law and Order”), serve to create a love triangle with Wilee. This, too, feels like an attempt to inject an overused cinematic troupe.

One of the film’s bright spots is Shannon, who plays Monday as a desperate man willing to threaten anyone who gets in his way. To divulge anything else would be to spoil film twists, but Shannon continues to make his mark in Hollywood. The look in his eyes when he gets angry is one of intense rage, one that intimidates anyone in the path of his fury. The actor gives the film character that it otherwise lacks.

The film also gives us an interesting insight into Wilee’s thought process on several occasions as he sees different options to avoid a car crash. These action sequences, which are the real point of this film, are good enough.

But let’s face it: bicycles don’t provide the most spectacular action sequences.

The film tends to go into GPS mode, too, as it shows the audience Wilee’s destination in a virtual map of New York. This gets a little annoying and cuts into the flow of the movie.

“Premium Rush,” like its main character, has one singular view: get from point A to point B. It is simply not concerned with character development and provides the most minimal amount of backstory required to give the audience a sense of urgency.

Although some movies with shorter running times can be satisfying (Pixar films come to mind), often times the short running time equals a seemingly rushed script. “Premium Rush” is okay at its current speed but could have been better if it put on the brakes.

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About Karsten Burgstahler

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at kburgstahler@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext.255.

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