Premium Rush movie review
If there's one thing I can appreciate Hollywood for, it’s their frequent attempts to try to glamorize the workplace. They’ve been doing it for decades with buddy-cop films and war features. Even attempts to demonize a certain profession (I’m thinking of films like Waiting… and Office Space) inevitably make the job they are portraying seem a little more enticing. That being said, I long ago made peace with the fact that some professions, no matter how witty the dialogue, or thrilling the action scenes, cannot be glamorized. We’ll never see Eli Roth direct SNAK’D starring Chow Yun-Fat as a down-and-out-plumber tasked to take down the evil toilet-clogging mogul Powell Schitz (played of course by John Goodman), nor will we ever see The Coen Brothers direct Steve Buscemi as Billy Babbitt, a Bible-Belt Bible salesman from Mobile, Alabama, who has a bone to pick with Barack Obama. The thrust of this rather weak opening is that Premium Rush sucked.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who by now has a leading-role ratio comparable to only the elitist male pornography stars, plays the ridiculously named “Wilee” one of 1,500 bicycle couriers in Manhattan that rides a bike with no brakes. And doesn’t it look like those bike couriers are having fun, endangering themselves and others, destroying private property, and whatnot? On this particular day, Wilee is given a package by his girlfriend’s roommate. This package contains $50,000 that, in the least complicated explanation possible, will pay for a boat ticket for someone in China to be smuggled to the States. This money, as money is likely to do, brings the corrupt cops out of the woodwork. Enter Michael Shannon, who really should have stuck to Boardwalk Empire, playing the equally ridiculously named “Bobby Monday.” Monday wants the money to pay off a gambling debt. Wilee wants the money because of some arbitrary commitment to a job that, honestly, no one would want to have. If someone that looked like Michael Shannon pointed a gun in my face, I would be handing over everything I was carrying immediately.
Premium Rush isn’t so much a character-driven narrative with thrilling action scenes, but rather, a movie about all the cool shit you can do on a bike that a story has the audacity to try to interrupt once in a while. If I wanted to watch the X-Games, I’d have stayed home and watched the bloody X-Games, and not paid $12 to see it in the theatre. I hope we can also all agree that Quentin Tarantino revolutionized non-chronological filmmaking, but because this style is popular, you can’t use it as a cop out. If you can’t tell a good story in order, telling it out of order doesn’t make the story any more exciting, it just makes the storyteller a pretentious cock.
As for writing, Premium Rush is nowhere near recuperating its estimated $35 million budget, and I hope it stays that way. If this movie were a commercial success, it might give other directors evil ideas. If Premium Rush were a success, we might soon see Oliver Stone direct the biopic of his certified public accountant, and I wouldn’t want to live in that world.