by Simon Abrams
Premium Rush is veteran screenwriter David Koepp's fourth directorial effort, and generally speaking, it's a well-realized B-movie. That's not a knock against Koepp or his ambitions. Indeed, his high-concept action film is as accomplished as it is because it takes a modest premise — a Manhattan bike messenger has to deliver a mysterious package while evading a corrupt cop — and goes far with it.
As a storyteller, Koepp (Ghost Town, Stir of Echoes) is still a better screenwriter than he is a director. His acknowledged difficulty filming stuntwork, especially in traffic near Columbia University's Morningside campus, is apparent: The film's big, action-intensive set pieces are little more than adequate. But Premium Rush is most dynamic when Koepp and co-writer John Kamp use their suitably convoluted plot as the movie's accelerant.
The appropriately named Wilee (The Dark Knight Rises' Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a bike messenger who loves to go fast. Everything about his job and his character are related to this basic trait. That includes his refusal to put brakes on his bike, as well as his refusal to hand over a small envelope when an irate and obviously unstable cop named Bobby (character actor extraordinaire Michael Shannon) shows up demanding it. So Wilee pedals off, only to find Bobby in vicious pursuit.
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