Premium Rush is a high-octane thrill ride, a white-knuckle rush of a film. There’s technically a plot, revealed in smatterings of flashbacks, but it’s essentially a barebones excuse to fill the film with exhilarating bicycle races. One of my (and apparently everyone’s) favourite actors at the moment, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, plays Wilee (like the Coyote), an adrenaline-junkie bicycle courier, who lays out everything you need to know about the film in the first five minutes.
Premium Rush’s exposition is mostly used an excuse to break up the chase scenes. These scenes are better than they need to be, thanks to an engaging performance by the villain of the piece, Michael Shannon, though an attempt to establish another courier as a secondary antagonist feels contrived.
The chase scenes are capably directed; you always know what’s going on, plus they’re generally tense and exciting. They’re at their best when they resemble Burnout, zipping through crowded traffic. Scenes that are basically a bike race through the park are less interesting. There’s some cute gimmicks, like Wilee “foreseeing” his path through the obstacle course that is crowded traffic, used cleverly without being overused.
Premium Rush isn’t deep, but it is a whole lot of fun!