Thursday, August 23, 2012

Singletracked

Premium Rush       WWW Score: 77%

After a steady stream of starring in indies and a slew of supporting slots in blockbusters, the summer when Joseph Gordon-Levitt took center stage spins on with his first big studio, main-event role in the movin' and groovin' Premium Rush. The 31-year-old trading in his Robinmobile (allegedly) for a 10-speed minus nine of its gears; rip-roaring through New York as Wilee, the most reckless/fearless/half-cocked bike messenger on the mean streets of Manhattan.

With a critically important parcel nestled in his satchel, Wilee sets off to deliver it only to discover a downright dirty detective, Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), trailing close behind. It just so turns out, this particular "premium rush" is worth a good chunk of change and Monday wouldn't mind getting his mitts on the thing.

Now you'd think being on a bike would give Wilee a slight advantage in New York but remarkably, Monday is able to keep up in his car; the notoriously gridlocked streets are eerily - and laughably - empty. Wilee - as in Wile E. Coyote - flies down one-way streets, under bridges, through parks, but Monday's Mazda 3 will not be denied.

It's an over-the-top performance from Shannon. The Academy Award-nominee goes for broke with a voice that veers into Three Stooges "Oh, a wise guy, eh?" territory on numerous occasions. Shannon tosses out the subtleties of his Take Shelter character and rolls strictly with some serious impulse-control issues. Chewing up scenery indeed.

Zooming in and out of NYC via a cinematic version of Google Maps, David Koepp (remember the Ricky Gervais flop Ghost Town?) adds as slick touch behind the camera. Chase scenes - while hyper-extended - are captured with exquisite skill and a heaping dose of adrenaline. Beat-up, one-gear, zero-brake bike sales are set to soar.

How critical is sound to a film? The whole thing is nearly brought to its knees by David Sardy's abominable score. It's amongst the most generic electronica-ish tripe ever splattered across a film and it's incessant. The stench is overwhelming but considering Sardy's most recent composer credit was the sequel to Ghost Rider, not unexpected. Something with this kind of kinetic energy needs a pulsating soundtrack to match. Give me the stuff that made Run Lola Run motor.

Now if you do decide to make a date with Premium Rush, the following addendum to your bucket list is a lock: "Zipping down Madison Avenue on a bike sans brakes". But be warned, you could find yourself glancing at your watch a few too many times for an action flick that clocks in at just 91 minutes in length.

Now where's my bike...