Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Premium Rush" (2012) - Movie Review

There are two great things that goes in favour of “Premium Rush” which in any other circumstances would have been a badly scripted and lazily written film. Those two things are the breathtaking speed the bike stunts are shot and Michael Shannon. While the first involved great dedication and death defying stunt artists along with lead man Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon anchors the craziness in this corrupt and bizarre cop Bobby Monday. Together with director David Koepp not wasting a single moment to let the audience lose their attention span takes this film to something arresting and fun filled.

Levitt’s Wilee is a kid addicted to adrenaline running around New York City delivering envelopes that would mean nothing in a common scenario but becomes a game and thrill seeking in his hand. He has an old run down bike that is fixed gear and has no breaks. One speed, no stops. His braking mechanism twists my legs and ankles yet a pleasure to watch for. He is maniacal on the street being the genesis of hundred of different road accidents and rages. Himself and his clan of bikers are unanimously despised and yelled upon by taxi drivers, regular drivers, angry drivers, lazy drivers, pretty much any sort of drivers on the road. Add cops and mainly pedestrians to that list as well.

This is not about those people. This is about Wilee carrying something he will be in trouble for. One such is a ticket provided by Wilee’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa’s (Dania Ramirez) room mate Nima (Jamie Chung). What that ticket means are explained quite conveniently and without any brakes to the story in snippets of rewind in time. That is where the otherwise bad writing turns into a good story telling in the hands of David Koepp and his editors Derek Ambrosi and Jill Savitt. They never wait for a dull moment and keep the story moving at a pace that is good enough to keep track but never pauses to analyze the logic or reality of the story.

The resultant is an old fashioned thrilling entertainer with modern utilization of CGI and technology aiding good hands into the streets of New York City. The chases in the film are again not mundane either. There is a purpose for the chasers and the people they are chasing or running away from. While Michael Shannon’s Bobby Monday is out there to save himself for the gambling debt towards Wilee, there is Wilee’s competitor in the same courier company he works for, the chiseled muscular and maniacally athletic Manny (Wole Parks). There is a stellar competition in racing in between them which is a treat to watch. For once there is a part in the chase where the mechanical strength combined with the physical limitation towards gravity makes us gasp for breath.

Being a recent biker myself, while I could see the adrenaline rush and the thrill seeking Wilee goes for, I could not see myself going through the hoops to get that in the rush hour crazy traffic of New York City. That brings to the city itself which in every film it happens becomes an element and character of itself. Here I was reminded of the day walks I took through the city roaming through it amongst, towards and against the waves of people. Wilee cruises through them in his bike that is nothing short of shocking.

I talked Michael Shannon becoming a quintessential factor in salvaging this film that would have fallen abysmally into the clutches of bad cinema. The reason being is that he does not make Bobby Monday a simple minded single motto villain. He is a gambling addict and I very much doubt a drug addict as well. When we learn the predicament he is in and the origins we get a kick out of this whacky man. There are two scenes where he simply steals the entire film from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. One is when he torturously interrogates Levitt’s Wilee for the ticket he is after and the second is his final scene. In a film that is driven purely by kinetic energy and mindless entertainment, Shannon shines through it bringing a trademark characteristic to it.

There are several things that are so bad in “Premium Rush” and one thing being the monotonic background score by David Sardy. What an unique opportunity to immerse one into the electronic techno energy these scenes beg for and got utilized in The Bourne Series and “Hanna” only to be wasted with no pulse pounding usage of tunes by Sardy out here. Yet in all these drawbacks you forgot those flaws and are thrilled through the hellish ride “Premium Rush” puts its audience in.

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