Premium Rush, as the title suggests is a high-octane chase film. Following protagonist Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a bike courier by trade as he negotiates New York City’s dangerous roads on a bike with no gears and no breaks. He likes to live on the edge you see. Clearly bright, he is a former law student who opted for the adrenaline rush of cycling around the city at break-neck speed rather than taking the bar exam.
He is joined on the streets by former girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) and his rival in the speed stakes Manny (Wole Parks), however on one premium rush job for his girlfriend’s roommate he is stopped by a police officer Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) and having refused to hand over the package, he finds himself being chased across the city, desperately trying to avoid his pursuer while still completing the job in the time.
Premium Rush is a by-the-numbers chase thriller that is elevated from mediocrity by two excellent performances by the charismatic Shannon and Gordon-Levitt. Filled with a thrilling series of chase sequences it barely pauses for long enough to embrace it’s own mediocrity. Like The Transporter before it, Premium Rush doesn’t pretend to be anything other than fun cycling from plot point to obvious plot point, like way-points on a map. In fact some of the more original scenes involve Wilee accessing the situation around him before making the decision on which route to take.
As with most chase thrillers like this it survives on its central main pairing and one or two innovative directorial tricks. Considering the nature and confines of its production, plot and marketing, it is incredible that Premium Rush is as entertaining as it is. A really pleasant surprise and further proof, if were needed that both Gordon-Levitt and Shannon are two of the most exciting actors working today.