Use the bike lane, you jerk.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/24/2012
Director: David Koepp
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Kymberly Perfetto, Aasif Mandvi, Jamie Chung, Wolé Parks
Rated: PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes


Seriously. Get OUT of the way!

All good things do come to an end at some point. Pixar had a nice run of things until “Cars 2” brought things to a screeching halt. MySpace seemed pretty popular until Facebook squashed it like a bug (still waiting on the next iteration of social networking). And Joseph Gordon-Levitt has had a ridiculously good run of films for a number of years since 2005′s “Mysterious Skin” with only minor hiccups along the way (I know “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” & “Havoc” are more than hiccups but he was only a minor character in both).

Well, JGL’s run had to end sometime and hopefully whatever paycheck he snagged during the course of “Premium Rush” will allow him to comfortably continue being involved in future independent and original films because he’s far too good of a talent to be wasted in such formulaic dreck. Have I shown my hand in this review too early? Allow me to go on.

Now, I was like many people who saw the trailer for this and said: “So it’s about a bike messenger on the run from some dude who wants his package” (minds out of the gutter people). This is the kind of premise that existed frequently in the 80′s and generally featured C-level talent with possibly one future star among them (“BMX Bandits”, “Rad”, “Thrashin’”). The 90′s even saw their attempt with such low-IQ fare with “Airborne” and “Extreme Ops” … holy crap, upon a fact checking mission, I just learned “Extreme Ops” was 2002 … it’s a bigger heap of disaster than I remember.

In any case, with “Premium Rush”, my hope was that the inclusion of JGL as the non-conventional alpha dog with a specific set of skills pitted against Michael Shannon’s firm command on playing mentally unbalanced characters would elevate the film out of mediocrity; that maybe this was a case of the trailer being cut to look mainstream but the actual result was something actually interesting. Sadly, no luck there.

Really the only good thing that can be said about the whole affair is that Michael Shannon is great fun to watch in roles like these. His ability to be so convincingly unhinged is off the charts and without him working so hard to suppress the stink off of the screenplay, the 91 minutes that already felt like two hours would feel a lot longer.

Levitt is essentially completely wasted here, and I only wish I meant completely drunk. While he doesn’t appear to be terribly phoning it in, there’s just nothing in the script for him to hold onto. The character is almost less than one-dimensional and had you replaced him with Paul Walker, I don’t know how many people would have noticed. … Allow me to rephrase that, PAUL WALKER could have been cast in lieu of JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT and the WORLD would have kept spinning as it does. Ugh.

The rest of the supporting cast ranges from innocuous (Aasif Mandvi) to useless (Jamie Chung, Dania Ramirez). Really, all of them could have been replaced too. Mandvi at least has some screen presence but is in a very minor role. Chung adopted a thick Chinese accent not previously heard by the public that just made me giggle. And Ramirez has yet to do anything in other films to show she has much range so between that and the script, you might as well have cast Jessica Alba to go along with Paul Walker and called this “Into the Pacific Blue” (if you get that joke based on a bad TV reference, give yourself +1 to awesomeness).

So I doubt it comes as any surprise that I wouldn’t recommend anyone ‘rush’ out or pay ‘premium’ price for this broken down mess of bicycle parts. Director David Koepp’s attempts to gussy up the proceedings by telling the backstory in disjointed fashion only made the flimsiness of the project more evident and “Premium Rush” is lucky to avoid even more abuse, getting a 2 out of 5. Had it not been for JGL propping up what he could and Shannon going all out, the only thing faster than the bike messengers would have been me headed out the theater door.

2 out of 5