There's no pretense here. No delusions of grandeur. No misguided Academy aspirations. Premium Rush is a film that recognizes the boundaries of its skin and is completely comfortable in it. It's simply a fun, fast, and intense 90-minute ride that's equal parts tension and comic relief.
Rather than potentially spoil any of the details, I'll let you watch the finer points of the plot unravel on screen. Multiple back-stories are told via time flashbacks, so some of the events might get lost in the translation if you're not paying close attention. What you need to know is that the essence of the film rests in following Joseph Gordon-Levitt's bike journey through the streets of Manhattan as he attempts to deliver his envelope with a scene-stealing Michael Shannon and an I-take-my-job-way-too-seriously bike cop hot on his tail.
You'll recoil and cringe as JGL weaves in and out of traffic, avoiding vehicles and pedestrians alike. You'll laugh as the aforementioned bike cop continually regroups and continues his quest. And you'll love to hate Mr. Shannon as he deftly demonstrates his character's impulse control issues.
I've always heard people say how good of an actor Michael Shannon is, but I've never really seen him in anything. I will definitely seek out more of his work after enjoying his performance in Premium Rush. His hypocritical diatribe on how disgusted he is by the lowering of today's standards had me laughing several minutes after he delivered it. I loved this guy!
I also enjoyed what I am branding the "alternate scenario cam" – whenever JGL finds himself in a tight situation, the camera shows him quickly calculating his possible routes and their potential outcomes, many of which end in hilarity and disaster for either Mr. Gordon-Levitt or an unsuspecting pedestrian.
Premium Rush keeps the pace tight and the audience engaged. The camera work forces us right in the middle of the traffic and the blaring car horns, allowing us to experience the tension both visibly and audibly.
The film's main drawback is its abundance of profanity and crass talk. The worst offenders are one f-bomb and more than 10 uses of G-d**n.
Premium Rush never takes itself too seriously, and neither should you. As long as you check your expectations at the theater door then I'm confident the majority of you will find that this film – much like its bike messenger protagonist- delivers.