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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Premium Rush | Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jamie Chung, Dania Ramirez, Michael Shannon | Review

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Premium Rush

Writer/director David Koepp's Premium Rush is just that, a first rate adrenaline rush from beginning to end.

Set in the Big Apple, the story centers on Wilee (as in Wilee Coyote) a former law student turned bike messenger, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, who enjoys the fast paced thrills of riding his bike without gears and brakes. Although considered one of the best bike messengers in the city, the confident and skillful dare devil finds himself in a death defying cat and mouse chase through the city that he never bargained for.

When time is of the essence to get a package to a local destination, Wilee is accustomed to putting his life in danger every day by swerving through heavy traffic and crowded streets filled with cars, trucks and pedestrians in his path. It's all in a days work. It's another thing having to dodge a speeding car driven by a crazed, armed person on your tail, who will do anything to get their hands on a package in your safe keeping before it reaches the intended destination.

Told in occasional quick flashbacks to the present, we learn that  Wilee picked up an envelope at Columbia University from Nima (Jamie Chung) a Chinese student and roommate of Vanessa (a buff Dania Ramirez), Wilee's fellow bike messenger and on again/off again girlfriend, and contains a valuable ticket worth thousands of dollars (for what, I won't divulge). Eager to get in the way of its delivery to a woman in Chinatown is corrupt Manhattan Detective Bobby Monday (a deliciously menacing, Michael Shannon), a guy with a serious gambling habit that has put him in deep sh-t with some Chinese gangsters, and he is determined to snatch that ticket so he can pay off his debts. However, Wilee's got a ticket to ride and he don't care.

With the clock ticking, the action kicks into high gear and barely stops long enough for you to catch a breath.

Cleverly shown from Wilee's point of view, we get to see how, in a split second he is able to take in his surroundings and figure out every alternate option for his route in order to avert a catastrophic run in with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian in his way.

Void of CGI effects, what you see is what you get. In other words, the action is real, with stunt doubles filling in only for the most dangerous and tricky bike moves. The superb young actor, Joseph Gordon Levitt has stated in interviews that he trained for six weeks to take on this physically demanding role of bike messenger.  He did most of the bike riding and has the scars to prove it, reportedly ending up with more than 30 stitches on his arm after one accident.

Nicely packaged with good performances, effectively staged chase sequences and terrific cinematography, Premium Rush is a high voltage thrill ride that delivers the goods in more ways than one

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