Man, Joseph “Omnipresent” Gordon Levitt is making the rounds this year. Actually, the past few years. In his latest endeavor, PREMIUM RUSH, Levitt plays an extreme bike courier. Wilee rides his bike much the way I imagine the bikers of Chicago do: fast and carelessly for the most part. But he gets the job done. All of his deliveries are made on time. His sorta girlfriend who works for the same company he does, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), has just been kicked out by her roommate. With no reason, she is asked to leave by that evening. Meanwhile, said roommate, Nima (Jamie Chung), has put in a request for precious cargo to be delivered to Chinatown by 7pm. She requested that Wilee take the package for her and reluctantly leaves her fate in his hands.
Michael Shannon plays NYPD Officer Bobby Monday. Let’s forget that Shannon looks like Rodney Dangerfield and Ray Liotta’s lovechild, and focus on the fact that he plays a great sleaze ball. He’s a crooked cop, he’s a gambler, and he’s a real shithead. Taking a great interest in what Nima has given to Wilee, Monday will do whatever it takes to stop him from delivering it to the destination. He’s batshit, guys. I wish I could articulate to you how crazy he is. Monday is dabbling in all kinds of unsavory things, but most importantly, he needs to get his hot little hands on some serious cash, fast.
The movie does a fun take on the reverse time approach to movie making. We get a lot of the two hours ago, two hours before that, and the like. An easily tied together plot that seems a little far-fetched actually works for RUSH. Levitt – who ended up with real live stitches after filming, gave his usual charming flare while zipping through the streets of New York. I was a big fan of the different scenarios when coming to an intersection at full speed and searching – in a nanosecond – for the best way not to die. As someone who rides in downtown Chicago during rush hour, I’ve had a few of those “Oh, shit” moments when I realize there might be no way to not get hurt.
The cast, as a whole, works pretty well, but aside from one very unlucky police officer, this is largely about three main characters: Wilee, Nima, and Monday. I was excited, I was nervous, and I even got a little misty-eyed. This exceeded my expectations. Probably because they were so low, but still. It was fun and funny and that Joseph Gordon Levitt is a real dream boat.
A good end of summer film, the hour and a half that it takes to watch this movie seems well spent when it’s hot out and you’ve nothing better to do. What could be better than watching JGL flex his muscles while Michael Shannon cackles at him from his car? Forget it, Monday. It’s Chinatown.