Popcorn gets stuck in the bubblegum of director/co-writer David Koepp’s teenybopper crowd-pleaser. 99% of all movies have at least one chase scene of some variation because the intrinsically cinematic device heightens drama regardless of the genre. In the case of “Premium Rush” the whole movie is a combination of chase sequences linked together by the thinnest of narrative tissue. Good thing then that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is more than capable of putting his charismatic presence to use as Wilee, a Manhattan bike-messenger who gets caught in the cross-hairs of bad lieutenant cop Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon). Officer Monday is a gambling-addicted police detective on deadline to steal and pay out $50,000 in cash connected to an envelope Wilee is trying to transport from Columbia University to Chinatown. Koepp goes heavy on a time-flipping narrative twitch complete with giant Helvetica time-codes that pop on the screen at regular intervals. Michael Shannon is appropriately menacing if not as openly desperate as the wiggly plot demands. The movie is all about following Gordon-Levitt’s stunt double through Manhattan’s traffic-riddled streets without regard for any continuity regarding the actual city map. Wilee’s piecemeal voice-over narration gets in the way more than it elucidates anything we don’t know from watching him ride his fixed-gear steel-frame bike against busy traffic like a bat out of hell. The filmmakers clearly intended “Premium Rush” to be a guilty pleasure picture for audiences over the age of 16. For anyone younger, it’s a fantasy daredevil movie that dares them to risk their lives as bicycle messengers just as the Kevin Bacon movie “Quicksilver” did way back in 1986.
Rated PG-13. 90 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
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