Premium Rush is the kind of movie Hollywood no longer seems interested in: The B-movie action film. These are films with low budgets and generally smaller stakes that try to make up for their limitations with a streamlined plot, a high concept, and a leading man that people like. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon star in this story of a bike messenger (Gordon-Levitt) who’s given a hot item that gets him hunted by a cop (Shannon). Our review of Premium Rush on Blu-ray follows after the jump.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee (yes, like the coyote), a bike messenger who rides around New York without breaks who goes as fast as he can while mapping his non-stop route in his mind. At the end of a day, after his girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) has just broken up with him and moved out of her old apartment, he’s given one last assignment. And it’s a delivery for Vanessa’s old roommate Nima (Jamie Chung). Cop Bobby Monday (Shannon) wants that package because it’s worth $50 grand and it would clear him of his gambling debts. But it turns out that it’s not just money on the line, but a human life.
Running 91 minutes (or about 84 sans credits) David Koepp’s Premium Rush is never boring, even if the writer turned director doesn’t have a great panache for action sequences. If the film works it’s because Michael Shannon is one of those actors who makes magic right now. From his high pitched giggle to any choice he makes regarding cadence or delivery, Shannon’s fuck up of a cop keeps the film afloat for much of the running time because you never know what to expect from him. Which makes it unfortunate that Gordon-Levitt doesn’t have much of a character – if his role had a little more meat on the bone, this might be a transcendent B movie. He’s playing a bike courier, so it’s a credit to the actor that he doesn’t come across as douche-y (which could be a problem when you’re playing an “agro” bike messenger), but there’s not much more for him to do besides practical stunts, though he is convincing on a bike.
For the most part the film settles for being an agreeable time waster, and it works on that level, but there’s nothing that makes it particularly memorable other than Shannon’s fun performance. Everything about this film feels like it could have been done ten years ago, so it’s most interesting facet is how out of place it feels. The film came out at the end of summer and died a quick box office death, which may not have been fair but it’s hard to sell people on spending near twenty bucks to watch something like this, when it will surely be just as entertaining when watched on cable.
Sony’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. It’s an excellent transfer of the film. There are only two supplements, the featurette “The Starting Line” (10 min.) and “Behind the Wheels” (13 min.). Because the film had to be done with a lot of practical stunts, these two featurettes are actually interesting, and both offer a nice portrait of the making of the movie. The Blu-ray also comes with a digital copy.