Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Premium Rush (2012)
Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an adrenaline-seeking bicycle messenger that works in New York City. The main reason he loves the job is because he doesn't like to wear suits. I'm not kidding around, that is his definitive reason why. One day during a normal day on a job, he receives a delivery to pick up from a friend of his ex-girlfriend's that must be delivered to the given location in 90 minutes or less. However the envelope picks up the attention of corrupt NYPD detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), who intends to use its contents to pay off a harsh debt he's stuck in. Once Wilee confronts Bobby, a chase ensues between the two for who can keep control over the envelope, and it soon attracts the attention of many more people across the Big Apple, too.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the best young actors working today in Hollywood, and that is mostly due to his role commitment and charisma he exhibits onscreen with the rest of the actors he interacts with. Even working with material that's as absurd and mainstream-oriented a film like "Premium Rush" can get, he still carries this film to a respectable degree. Not many actors give full commitment to every role they take on in their career, but Gordon-Levitt still manages to churn in that effect for each film he stars in.
Michael Shannon on the other hand though, is extremely over-the-top as the film's villain. His character's personality is very cartoonish at times, especially in the situations where he spouts random, cheesy one-liners, or overreacts to something that doesn't go his way. Shannon is still a very accomplished actor in this generation, and I respect him for embracing the absurd nature of his character to the fullest degree. However, there were numerous instances where I believe that went a little too overboard with his line delivery, though.
Apart from Gordon-Levitt and Shannon, the supporting casts' performances range from being either profoundly stereotypical to plain atrocious. Dania Ramirez is exceedingly bland as Wilee's ex-girlfriend whose also a bike messenger, but Jamie Chung on the other hand is appallingly awful. Chung's line delivery is so flat and hollow to a point that it was almost like she was taking depressives before each take. To an even worse degree, she has only one facial expression the entire film where she appears sad no matter what the situation's tone would be.
Apart from the two lead performances, the only other redeeming aspect of this film are the bicycling sequences. The have an energetic feel to them where the speed is very quick at times, and that is mostly thanks to the stylish camerawork by cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen. Furthermore, some of them have a slick visual kick where Gordon-Levitt's character envisions various paths he could take when he's in a tight pickle, whether they would work or not in their final outcome.
Co-writer/director David Koepp is one of the commercially successful screenwriters of the past twenty years, but his overall track record from a critical standpoint is very mixed. Koepp is highly capable of constructing unique stories with colorful characters, but his execution in terms of dialogue has always been inconsistent. That flaw is clearly evident yet again in this film where the dialogue ranges from being lazy to corny throughout. Additionally, that flaw also doesn't do enough to mask how poorly structured the film's story is since it shifts from real-time to flashback so much in the second and third acts.
On the other hand though, Koepp is beginning to show more promise lately as a director more than a screenwriter. He chooses to film the movie's action sequences with zero instances of shaky cam, and his visual style also packs a slight punch in GPS map sequences that connect character locations together at a given time, too. Essentially, Koepp is a filmmaker of a similar grade to likes of M. Night Shyamalan, where he shows promise as a good director but must strip his writing skills and leave it to professionals whose credits are more highly acclaimed.
Despite a satisfyingly entertaining first thirty minutes, "Premium Rush" gradually devolves into an inconsistent mess due to its wildly inconsistent writing and poor supporting cast performances. Gordon-Levitt and Shannon give it their best, but even they deserve better with this disappointment. Even if you're a fan of these two great actors, you're better off just renting this film in the future because it is as forgettable as most late August theatrical releases are.
Final Grade: C-