‘Premium Rush’ squanders sharp subject on so-so story

Contributed
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in ‘Premium Rush.’ Rated PG-13, 91 min. Columbia Pictures, 2012.

Bicycle messengers in New York City seem like a natural fit for a high-action thriller, but unfortunately there is not much thrilling about “Premium Rush.” There are some nice shots in which the camera weaves quickly between cabs, but the tone in general is far too serious for such a speedy, throwaway plot.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Wilee, a messenger with a reputation for recklessness. He picks up an envelope to rush downtown, and is pursued by a crooked cop (Michael Shannon) with a gambling problem and “impulse control” issues. Shannon’s unhinged, giggling psycho goes way beyond what the film deserves.

The script jumps backwards and forwards in time, and shows that it’s never smart to use a fractured timeline just for the sake of being tricky. Similarly, nothing is added by making us wonder if Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) will stay with Wilee or go with fellow messenger Manny (Wole Parks).

There could have been anything in that package, but the contents turn out to be underwhelming at best, and just a small part of a story that turns oddly sentimental about characters we barely know. A documentary on real bike messengers would have offered more drama.

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