You might be wondering why someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt who just appeared in one of the year’s best movies, The Dark Knight Rises, is doing in a decidedly low-brow and B-grade movie like Premium Rush. It falls squarely into that oddest of film genres periodically put out by Tinsel Town: high concept, low budget – and therefore, full of mixed results. To be sure, the entire picture rests on Levitt’s petite sized frame which has him as Wilee, an agile Manhattan bicycle messenger that is used to dodging cars, cabs, and pedestrians that would sooner plow him down than look at him. I mean, who sends anything by bicycle these days? That’s so . . . June Cleaver.
Wilee is about to drop off the last package of the day which is on ‘premium rush’ delivery status. When he makes it to the destination, however, he discovers that the messenger of the package must be killed upon delivery – at least that’s what the wayward NYPD detective played by Michael Shannon says when he wants the package for his own. And this Wilee had not been told by his boss who sent him on the high paying assignment. Hence, the goose chase begins that goes all across Manhattan and the New York gutter line.
We’ve seen a thousand suspense-ridden chasing movies where an innocent young protagonist is hunted down by a nefarious gang or villain with an almost Gollum-like obsession for whatever the hero or heroine has in their possession. This movie is fun, if not exactly innovatory, and that should be enough reason to want to see anything during the closing days of the doldrums summer movie season. Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi also puts in a memorable cameo as a typical New Yorker. Not great cinema, but good enough if you check your expectations at the door.