If there is one word to describe the experience of seeing this movie, it would be “a rush.” Oh wait, that’s two words. What about a frickin’ awesome rush? Well, that sounds a bit better, but that’s three words and that’s my bad. In all honesty, Premium Rush had me at the edge of my seat from the first minute until the last and that, ladies and gents is entertainment at its finest.
Directed by David Koepp, and written also by David Koepp and John Kamps, the film revolves around New York bike messenger Wilee (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who unwittingly receives a premium rush delivery which contains a ticket worth a huge amount of money. He tries to make it to the deadline while a dirty cop indebted to the Chinese gambling mob does his damnest to stop him from delivering the envelope, chasing him all across the streets of Manhattan to achieve his goal.
Premium Rush was a nail biter from Minute One. I loved the pure athleticism and skills of the actors and stuntmen involved in this movie, which effectively depicted the day to day dangers encountered by over 1,500 bike messengers in a city as busy as New York. There were plenty of great riding in the film, further made cool by tricks worthy of the X-games (well, close enough). Man, most of the chase scenes almost gave me a heart attack because of its sheer speed.
I loved the way the story unfolded, and the way the entire film was presented. It had an indie sort of edginess but still tempered by mainstream flavor that would appeal to audiences. This, I think was made possible by great editing and effects. The GPS and the trial and error effects were executed flawlessly and were very relevant to the movie.
There were only a few actors who were in the movie, Gordon-Levitt being on the front and center, but somehow, the movie seemed bigger because of the focus on the key characters. The irony of his name, being similar to Wil.E. Cayote, who is known for his endless (yet unfruitful) pursuit of the Roadrunner to his character being the one pursued by the dirty cop to great personal cost was a great touch.
Gordon-Levitt deserves a great big pat on the back for pulling off the cycling part of the movie to endearing himself to the audience with his character’s smart alecky ways and resourcefulness, as with the rest of the cast. Levitt was Premium Rush. They couldn’t have cast a better actor to fit the part.
All in all, Premium Rush was a great ride. Hats off to the filmmakers to this salute to bike messengers, all around the world. There’s no greater way to honor them than by showing the audience what an awful risk is involved in delivering messages, and humanizing their profession by highlighting their sense of community.
P.S. Here in the Philippines, bike couriers are called “Lagarista” and mostly carry film reels from one theater to another. There was a movie released in 2000, directed by Mel Chionglo which starred actor Piolo Pascual. It was shown in several international film festivals (Toronto, Chicago, Pusan and Hong Kong) and had local limited release.