Premium Rush ✮✮✮
Ride, Wilee, Ride!
by Glenn Lovell
“Premium Rush” is well-titled. This comedy-thriller is a full-tilt, balls-to-the-wall ride; it’s exhilarating from the word go — part ode to the happy, barking-shins cyclist, part tick-tock-tick-tock countdown to a fateful rendezvous, this time in New York’s Chinatown.
If the latter element feels familiar, there’s good reason. Director-writer David Koepp has taken more than a page from Tom Tykwer’s “Run Lola Run.” Like that rumination on time, fate and interconnectiveness, Koepp’s breakneck chase bends and contorts time with a hero who avoids at least some crack-ups by seeing them in advance.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt at his most likable plays gonzo bicycle courier Wilee, aka “Coyote Man.” His mantra: “Brakes are death.” We meet Wilee at 6:33 p.m., flying through the air in slow-mo. As he hits the pavement, we time-leap back to 5 p.m. to learn how he came to this painful predicament and why a crooked cop named Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) is determined to have what’s in Wilee’s delivery pouch.
Through the wonders of hands-free cell phones, Gordon-Levitt is able to parry with an ex-girlfriend/courier (Dania Ramirez) and a narcissistic rival (Wolé Parks). Though also chased by a determined bike cop (Christopher Place providing tired comic relief), Wilee’s biggest headache remains Shannon’s slow-boil nemesis, Monday. The mushy, gap-toothed Shannon could have stepped from a Coen brothers comedy, he’s that lovably demented. When one of his victim’s asks why, he smiles and volunteers, “HR says ‘impulse control issues.'”
“Premium Rush” bogs down after a fun sprint through Central Park. No matter. It’s the kamikaze cyclist’s wet dream — Wilee blasts through red lights, into pedestrians and oncoming traffic — and the best action movie of the summer, a fun fusion of humor, suspense and pure adrenaline.
Hitchcock meets “Breaking Away,” anyone?