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‘Premium Rush,’ an action film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivered to theaters Friday, August 24, 2012, had a charm of its own despite not being of traditional action caliber. Although the cast isn’t bursting with well-known actors and actresses, they pack a punch in character and witty jibes.
Written and directed by David Koepp, known for ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Panic Room’, and ‘Spiderman,’ ‘Premium Rush’ is a $35 million movie that opened at $6 million. Critics were not too impressed with the underrated action film.
Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a New York City bicycle messenger whose reckless behavior earns him the reputation as an adrenaline junkie. His bike has no brakes, allowing him to hone his abilities to imagine and execute multiple escape routes, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes’ (Robert Downey Jr.) ability in the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movies.
On one of his jobs, he unknowingly picks up a valuable delivery from his ex-girlfriend Vanessa’s (Dania Ramirez) roommate Nima (Jamie Chung), who sports a blatantly fake Chinese accent. This catalyzes the explosion of action as he is chased by not only what seems to be a crazed stranger in a suit demanding he hand over the delivery, but a bicycle cop who witnessed him breaking a few laws. Confused at the danger of the secret package, Wilee heads back to campus to confront Nima about what he’s carrying.
It wasn’t the plot that held intrigue—although the storyline format unfurled similarly to ‘Vantage Point’ peaked curiosity—but the characters and tone of the overall film. The dry and sometimes violent humor of the characters, circumstances, and events added a complexity to the film rare in other action movies.
It is rare when action films have time to flesh out the characters, however ‘Premium Rush’ does that with Wilee’s voice overs and interactions with other characters. Michael Shannon, the actor that plays dirty cop Bobby Monday, was particularly impressive. By including competitive, romantic, and compassionate qualities to the main characters, ‘Premium Rush’ creates a very real society that comes to life on screen.
Had it not been for David Koepp, director and writer, revealing the storyline in a way that piqued curiosity, the plot would have been predictable and redundant. The characters and their respective backgrounds were pieced together like a puzzle sporadically between gripping action scenes that left little time for the audience’s attention to wander. Combined with the dry humor the movie offered, ‘Premium Rush’ delivered high-quality entertainment.
Overall, ‘Premium Rush’ is a delightful surprise that offers much more than action. Though not bound to win awards anytime soon, it is remarkably different than other blockbusters, combining comedic wit and tragic elements that culminate in a satisfied sigh at the film’s end.