A Not So Premium Rush
Premium Rush is little more than overtly stylised pulp with an unabashed cartoon sensibility; and it's fun. Well, that's all it is, really. Young, sweating, sexually-charged hotties racing around NYC on their brakeless bikes as they outrun a crooked cop harbouring a debt to the Chinese mob; it actually plays out convincingly and nails the almost anarchistic bike messenger mentality. However, the film's distinct lack of substance does catch up with it about halfway through, and this degradation is only exacerbated by uncharacteristically hit-and-miss performances from the two leads: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon.
Despite its art-film distribution, the film actually plays out like a summer blockbuster; overflowing with flashy mapping sequences, imagined hypothetical deaths, episodic flashbacks and a soundtrack driven by pop-rock riffing. These elements actually work well together and keep what might otherwise be fairly pedestrian viewing, exciting. About 45 minutes in, however, these flamboyant layers quickly become tedious, and when you realise that there isn't much more to these ludicrous characters or the plot itself, the whole experience caves in on itself. You have to really suspend the part of yourself responsible for logic and intelligence and simply let this picturesque tripe wash over you.
Now all supposed journalistic integrity aside, what the fuck is with Shannon's performance? It is, like the film's overall presentation, completely bonkers. And not in the hilarious and befitting way, a la Jack Nicholson in The Shining. But as in Joe Pesci in Home Alone: just plain mental. Keep an ear out for his delivery of the line, "I'm chasing a bicycle. Ha!" Maybe it would work if the other roles were played with such mindless abandon, but they're just not. It makes Shannon stick out like an obnoxious thorn amongst the roses, further distancing you from the action and the characters themselves. Bizarre stuff.
Anyhow, writer-director David Koepp is responsible for this crazed ride, who was also responsible for Ghost Town, Secret Window and the script for Jurassic Park. At his best, he's quite a bit of fun. At his worst, he's well-presented mediocrity. And interestingly enough, these sporadic flatlines are present in all of his work and not just on a film to film basis, which is a shame. Meaning that, instead of creating a great film from time to time, he consistently inhabits average.
In any case, Premium Rush is occasionally fun, but mostly subpar, as Koepp tends to be.