Do you want to see a movie about a bike messenger?
That was the question I asked myself. Could a movie about a glorified paperboy hold my interest for two hours? Being a dedicated movie reviewer, and a consumate professional, I said to myself, "I MUST review this film for the people. For MY people." So I hopped on my "Huffy Thunder 4" bicycle, WITH the banana seat, and I pedalled my scrawny, little, boyish legs to the cineplex and purchased a ticket for the movie "Premium Rush."
I've been moaning and groaning lately about Hollywood not coming up with original ideas. Well, I haven't seen any movies about bike delivery boys... until now.
And it wasn't terrible. But it wasn't "Breaking Away" either. Remember that 1979 bike movie starring a young Dennis Quaid and an even younger Jackie Earle Haley? What a fantastic film! There I go again, 'breaking away' from the movie I'm supposed to be reviewing, "Premium Rush." I seem to do that a lot.
"Premium Rush" tells the story of Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a Manhattan bike courier who lives on the edge. Wilee (just like the coyote) is a smart college graduate who isn't ready to don a suit and work in an office yet, so he does what he loves, riding like a maniac through the busy New York City streets on his custom made, two-wheeled unicycle. Wilee has a bicycle that has no brakes and the pedals never stop revolving. Yup, Wilee is one crazy bikeboy.
One day Wilee gets a delivery from his girlfriend's roommate. Her name is Nima. The package Nima gives to Wilee is a movie ticket with a smiley face drawn on it. This ticket is as good as gold. It's worth $50,000 I think. Maybe more, I'm not sure, but it's a lot. Nima gave Wilee the ticket to deliver for two reasons. First, the ticket must be delivered to a lady at precisely seven o'clock. And second, Nima is being followed by someone who wants that ticket. And he who possesses the ticket, reaps its rewards.
Enter crooked NYC police detective Bobby Monday. (Creepily and fantastically portrayed by Michael Shannon.) Bobby Monday has some serious issues. He is a bigtime gambling addict. He totally reminded me of myself. This guy would bet on anything! And anything he put money on turned to rubbish. He bet on pai-gow poker, dominoes, sporting games, and if I'm not mistaken, he may have even bet on that 'shell game' you see on the street corner!
Monday gets IN DEEP with the bookies. (I've been there!) He needs to find a way to save his hide, so to speak. He gets wind of this bikeboy named Wilee carrying the ticket and he goes on an NYC rampage through the streets to obtain said ticket. Now remember, he who gives ticket to lady at seven o'clock, gets riches.
Oh, I forgot to tell you why Nima needed the ticket. She is trying to smuggle her son from the old country, (somewhere in Asia, I'm not sure where) and this ticket will pay his way across the ocean in a beautiful six foot by eight foot storage trailer. Ahh, the luxuries of travelling 'economy class.'
Anyways, the chase is on through the city streets and then, (like most endings to films) reaches climax... come on now, you know I don't like to give away the endings to you! (Unless of course it's the ending to "John Carter," then I'll gladly give you that ending: It sucks.)
What I did like about this film was its all-star cast. It starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon and... well... um, that's pretty much it. I didn't really know anyone else. But those two were great.
I also liked how the director, David Koepp used some different approaches to show how the bike messengers finagled their ways through the busy traffic. He would draw arrows showing how certain routes would show you the safest path, and how other routes would pedal you to your demise (and there were some horrific crashes; great camera work).
There were a couple things I didn't like. These bike delivery boys AND girls would constantly be on their bluetooths. They'd be buzzing through the city traffic at 30 miles an hour, horns beeping, noise everywhere, people screaming at them, yet they'd have no problems yapping away. I want their cell service because I could be sitting in a cemetery, at midnight, on the quietest night of the year, and I still would have to say "Can you hear me now?"
Another lame thing was, at the end of the film Detective Monday is ready to kill Wilee. A couple of his bike messenger buddies roll on in, and Monday says, "Is that all you got?" And then out of the blue EVERY single bike messenger in New York City barrells in on their bikes, circles Monday and kills him (alright, sorry, I told you the ending after all). Seriously, what the hell is going on in the underground bike messenger mafia in New York City? Now there's a gang I don't want to mess with! Personally, I thought that scene was completely goofy and lame... and that's coming from someone who IS COMPLETELY GOOFY AND LAME!
All in all though, this was a pretty entertaining film... I liked it. I'm not going to pump its tires too much, but I'm not going to deflate them either.
Matty W. Kelley, Norwood Patch, reporting.
Fun Fact: Joseph Gordon-Levitt needed 31 stitches in his right arm after slamming into the back of a cab and putting it through the rear windshield. (They actually show the accident in the credits... It's pretty cool.)
Fun Matty Fact: I used to be a killer biker when I was young. I could pop wheelies, do endos, and bunny-hops. But I decided to give it up when I tried to jump the picnic table in my back yard. I landed somewhat awkwardly and received the worst raunching of my life.
Note: Take a look at my new Patch column photo... I think it shows my intellectual side.