Premium Rush (2012) Review

Updated: Oct 10

Premium Rush seems to merely be the product of merging The Fast and the Furious with pushbikes. It presents immense entertaining value, there is no denying this and as a causal movie it hits most of the marks, however the converging genre tropes result in little innovation, a predicable story and at times, lame action sequences simply trying too hard to be 'cool'.



Staring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez and Michael Shannon, Premium Rush centres around bike messenger Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) working a single job as a courier. The drama begins when Wilee receives an envelope for a delivery which attracts the interest of dirty cop Bobby Monday (Shannon). Monday pursues Wilee throughout Manhattan trying to get his hands on the envelope because a local loan shark whom Monday is in debt with, promises to clear his debt in exchange for the contents of the envelope. The story takes some slight twists and turns as more messengers get involved in the delivery of the envelope, making for some thrilling bike chase action scenes following different characters in an array of locations.


Director and Writer David Koepp attempts to bring the ‘bad boy’ image back to Manhattan with this 2012 action-thriller, but the result is something that will do little more than keep patrons in seats for a single viewing. The film has great acting, textbook action sequences, smooth cinematography and questionable CGI, however, Premium Rush will not leave you disappointed. This 92 minute flick felt somewhat confused as to what it wanted to be. I left the film not quite knowing if what I just witnessed was actually 'any good'.



Despite the beautiful scenery of its New York City backdrop and the impressive action stunts by pushbikes, the films narrative lacks in its attempt to inspire or engage. Using the plot to loosely tie in desired stunts and action sequences only, the screenplay itself is bland, predicable and fails to thrill. While oozing with seeming weak, tacky, stereotypical and predicable plot twists, Premium Rush does do its surface level very well though, and in turn, is the only thing you should expect when opting to see this film from a story perspective. It is shallow, but that doesn't mean it isn't shallow done well.


The cinematography is textbook. While beautifully shoot in a predicable and stunning manner, it fails to take any risks, making feels more like the work you’d see on a television drama rather than a full blown cinema piece. The action generally follows a simple left to right screen flow throughout, only mixing it up when the subjects turn around corners - only to quickly find the flow again. You as a viewer are taken on a straight line journey, missing the opportunity to create thrill or suspense in the adventure. Cinematographer, Mitchell Amundsen, does successful create the feel of a bike messenger on the roads of Manhattan by tracking alongside them and using a GroPro-ish style at times, however films like Crank do this in a much more raw and immersive manner. Every messenger's plot follows in the exact same way, depending entirely on the action to engage. But lets take the analytically cap off for a moment and focus on what Premium Rush does well; entertainment value, and this is strong, mostly because the action and presentation itself is simple and easy.



Koepp gets excellence performances from all the cast, even though most have never worked together nor played similar roles before. The standout is definitely the lead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose performance is divine showing us just how talented this actor is at creating and using the chemistry on set between people to enhance the overall performance of the cast. Consistence great acting out of the main cast helps keep Premium Rush flowing in the right direction, but the extras, notably at the end of the film, are definitely distracting offside.


An action film with pedals and a predicable story which entertains and leaves it audience with time well wasted. Quite easily a straight to TV or DVD movie release contender, Premium Rush is a mindless bike stunting, textbook turnaround, Hollywood gem you could quite easily watch while doing something more productive with your time. With some great action sequence woven in, if you’re into bike stunts then this one's for you... otherwise you're not missing out on much.


Story: Predicable and bland. A story that’s been done a million times before. Basically a game of cat and mouse, but the cat is a cop.


Acting: Brilliant. Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings his A-game to a B-grade movie, inspiring – and maybe influencing - a brilliantly acted film with little to no story. 


Entertainment: It's not the most engaging or entertaining film on the market, but not the worst eye bleeding thing either. Once it has drawn you in, you're hocked for 10 minutes thinking wow, how’d that happen. 


Direction: Besides the brilliant acting, Premium Rush lacks in innovation and with a director like David Koepp whom is almost known to exclusively work on the action/adventure genre, some creativity is expected. It feels more like a 'first-time director' work rather than an industry veteran revisiting his perfected art.


Overall: C+

© 2020 by Scott Murphy.