Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Movie Review: “Premium Rush”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast

   Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a very good actor, as seen in the recent hit Looper. Although this role doesn’t call for much range, he is convincing as a New York bike messenger and his riding skills were very impressive. Dania Ramirez has never really impressed me with any of her roles, and this film certainly didn’t give her a great opportunity to do so...even though it looked like she was trying, which made her performance seemed forced. Michael Shannon was exciting to watch as he always looks like he’s just about to go over the edge...and the fact that he plays a cop exactly in this state of mind was a win/win for everyone.

The Plot: 
   Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee (yes, as in the coyote), a bike messenger on the edge and very much in love with his job. His bike only has one gear...and no brakes, as he darts in and out of traffic to make his deliveries. He’s recently broken up with Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), a fellow messenger that doesn’t have her whole heart in the job as she has dreams of better things. Life is a series of deliveries, the life of a messenger...until Wilee gets a call for an envelope that will turn his day upside down.

   Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) is a cop with a gambling problem...exacerbated by the fact that he doesn’t know when to stop, and can’t figure out how to pay. In debt to the mob and the Chinese mafia, his hole only gets deeper as he sets his sights on a score that will make him break even. All he has to do is get his hands on a certain envelope...and all his troubles will be over.

   Unfortunately...that envelope is in the hands of Wilee, so his troubles are just beginning as Wilee strictly adheres to the messenger code, and won’t give the envelope up. What follows is a cascading series of unfortunate events, bike gymnastics and high speed shavings as both men race against the clock, and no matter who comes out on top...somebody will have their life changed forever.

The Verdict: 
   This isn’t the type of movie where great acting skills can be displayed, so I give kudos to Gordon-Levitt and Shannon for being able to sell their roles...especially Gordon-Levitt. Shannon, who will play General Zod in the upcoming Man of Steel film, plays a cop that is simply out of his mind....and looks completely natural immersed in such a role. I kept waiting for him to go too far (which he does) and was amazed at how nonchalantly he shrugged off responsibility. Every time he proclaimed to be a cop had me thinking to myself “ you’re not.”

   Ramirez fell flat for me due in part to the fact that her role just didn’t have any meat on the bones. I was never interested in what happened to her (until she went over her handlebars) and then my only excitement was how hard she it the ground. Despite the sparse script and forced acting, this film did have some redeemable qualities.

   The film engages in the familiar format of telling the story from different time points, and converging them in the end to put all the pieces together. This actually works well and adds some spice to it as it never really seems to bring you to any payoff as the riding scenes are sometimes long and anticlimactic. I was heavily amused though by a few scenes where Wilee is confronted by traffic and must make split second sequences that slow time down and present several possible options, and their painful outcomes. I actually laughed out loud as I’m amused to no end by calamity (don't judge me).

   This film wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be, but never quite got as bad as it could’ve been. If I was looking for a movie to view in a Friday night pinch, this film was adequate...and delivered 2 1/2 cinnamon sticks (out of 5) in my cup of tea.

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