We get paid to ride, what could be better than that?
Swift shot: What do Brian Trenchard-Smith and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have in common, besides hyphenated names? They were both a part of stand-out cycling flicks that I rather enjoyed. BT-S directed the cult classic, BMX Bandits, starring a very young Nicole Kidman in 1983, and while I enjoyed all the cool bicycle stunts, I think the auburn-topped Aussie stole the show. With Premium Rush though it was all about the ride, fixed gears, no hand-brakes and where wearing a suit is a fate worse than death. JG-L, fresh off the uber-successful The Dark Knight Rises, doesn’t stop pumping the pedals on his career with this targeted genre film. Cyclists of the world . . . this one is for you, probably safe to add it to your American Flyers and Breaking Away marathons.
But, this film wasn’t directed by BT-S, it was directed by David Koepp, a very talented director who helmed one of my favorite horror films, A Stir of Echoes. I never would have known that though, without IMDb, because the two films couldn’t be further away in scope. Koepp is known for his ability to change tones in a film, and Premium Rush is no different, it’s a part crotch-testing, adrenaline infused riding flick with chases of all manner throughout, but it also manages to slow down at times and develop into something real. Plus, he uses non-linear story-telling, all the rage these days. I must admit, it was well used, but I am no fan, personally. When I see a non-linear story, it detracts from the immersion I require to really connect with the characters.
Speaking of them, Gordon-Levitt as Wilee (like the Coyote) is a young urban professional who refuses to accept the mold. At times we are told how damned smart he is, and he does manage to show his shrewdness, but when he sees someone his age in a suit, he just doesn’t get it. It’s death to him. He is the long-running retro-grouch, stud of the Security Courier company, and gets the girl, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) who delivers for the same company. Things are a bit up-hill when the film starts, because Wilee has done something to piss her off, much to the delight of Hammerhead Manny (Wole Parks – sorry dude, I don’t do accents!) who wants more than anything to de-pant Vanessa, probably more to piss off Wilee than actually land a conquest.
But, again, this film was stolen by the incredibly talented, Michael Shannon. The guy owns this film, he turns what could easily be considered almost a genre only flick into something that, again Koepp excels at delivering, something meaningful. His turn as the highly-unstable Bobby Monday is what sold the film for me, personally not being a cycling nut, I needed someone to root for or against.
But, as I mentioned, this is a genre flick, and the nods to the bike-messengers of NYC are rampant, and one device that was used several times was this kind of digitally displayed choose-your-own-adventure method of getting into the minds of the messengers, something Koepp coined “Bike Vision.” You will either love it or loathe it, personally I thought it added a bit of a humor to a chase-heavy script. If it catches on though, be warned, you may see it elsewhere soon.
This was a fun flick, with a dark undertone not really suited for most kids, thanks to Bobby Monday, but if you are a cycle-freak, I highly recommend this one. If you love the old chase films from the silent movie era, this is probably right up your alley too. And if you live in NYC and are sick and tired of the messengers, just remember, someday you just may need them. If nothing else, the film will entertain you and keep you guessing, just what is in that bag that makes it so important. You have to watch the film to see.
[Swift aside: Incidentally, at my screening there was a veritable army of cyclists present from the Team in Training Palm Beach chapter, wearing their riding gear and cheering on their heroes on screen. It only added to my enjoyment of the film, truth be told.]