"I like to ride. Fixed gear. No brakes. Can't stop. Don't want to, either."
The summer film season always welcomes a slew of high-adrenaline chase scenes and action sequences. But rarely do we ever see them involving a bike messenger. And now we know why.
Two-time Golden Globe nominee (50/50, (500) Days of Summer) Joseph Gordon-Levitt headlines this summer Fast and the Furious on a bike movie, Premium Rush. The actors stars as Harvard law student-turned-bike messenger Wilee, whose task is to pick up and deliver an envelope from all the way uptown Manhattan to lower Manhattan in less than two hours on bike. The self-professed daredevil hops on his two-wheeler and rapidly pedals with amazing vigor to his pickup location. Along the way, the audience is treated to a master class in the day in the life of a bike messenger, which basically entails learning how to get from point A to point B as fast as you can with no brakes while disobeying all traffic and gravity laws.
The pace of the movie is really fantastic, but once you get past that and realize you've been watching a 90-minute bike chase, which isn't nearly as thrilling as the trailer lets on, you begin to deflate. To make matters worse, later in the movie it's revealed what's in the envelope and the film just spins right off its wheels. It tries to become something that it's not--a nuanced crime drama--and ends up looking really silly in the process. On the one hand you've got a high-speed bike pursuit (that does succeed at spotlighting really pretty summer New York sights), and other the other hand you've got a pretty serious (non bike-related) situation going on with Vanessa's roommate Nima Jamie Chung) that's rather loosely tied with Wilee's task. But, really, it's better when you thought the movie was merely one of the straggling cycling events from this year's Olympics.
The two supporting characters--Vanessa and Nima--are both carelessly written as well, but do manage to highlight two actresses that should probably be getting more acting work (Ramirez and especially Chung). However, that does nothing to elevate the movie, which speed races right to the edge of a cliff, then falls right off it.