Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Movie Review: Premiun Rush (PG13 - 91 minutes)

The last great cycling movie I saw was....hmmm...Okay, I don't remember ever seeing any great cycling movies.  To be honest, I didn't even watch that much cycling with the London 2012 games this summer.  I did watch some of the Velodrome races, with the solid wheel and the weird helmets and the no brakes; I also watched some of the mountain biking competitions, which were insane.
When I went into Premium Rush, the latest movie from Director David Koepp, I'm not sure what I was expecting.  JGL being awesome, an early look at new Zod, and the return of X3/Heroes's Dania Ramirez were all pieces, but aside from that, I didn't really have any expectations.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that if you are really into the New York City bicycle-messenger sub-culture, then this is your movie!  If you are not all that into the New York City bicycle-messenger sub-culture, I'm guessing you'll be entertained, but not overwhelmingly so.   Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee (as in coyote), a bike messenger who "rides like he has a death wish."  His voice-over repeatedly states "I like to ride. Fixed gear. No brakes. Can't stop. Don't want to, either."  I felt like he said that 12 times, but that may be an exaggeration.  Wilee apparently has dropped out of law school because he can't do 'the suit thing', and is loving his life as a messenger.  He picks up an envelope at 5:33 from Jamie Chung, which must be delivered across town by 7:00 pm.  Unbeknownst to him, a dirty cop, played by Michael Shannon, is also after the envelope.  This results in the chase sequence that lasts all movie.  Well, that's not entirely true.  The movie is a bit non-linear, cutting back and forth in time to provide backstory on Wilee, Chung's character, the other bike messengers, the cop, and even the envelope. 
David Koepp directs the movie at a consistent level of pace that is constantly moving.  It is always go, go, GO.  That's fine, and makes for good action, but also never gives you time to relax, and because the entire movie is at that pace, really, the climax is almost anti-climatic.  Koepp has previously done Ghost Town, Secret Window, Trigger Effect, and Stir of Echoes.  Secret Window was a Johnny Depp movie in which he's a writer who goes crazy and is stalked by (or is he?) John Tuturro with a bad southern accent and an even worse hat.  Because, let's be honest, when you go crazy - you are stalked by John Tuturro.  I have also seen Stir of Echoes, and both of these movies are more quiet, more still, and do not bear much resemblance to Premium Rush.  So Koepp appears to be breaking out of his box with this movie.
Everything is in motion in this movie from the very beginning.  There are some very cool sequences that overlay a map on the city - which happens every time a messenger needs to get from A to B - so perhaps could have been used a little less.  I also enjoyed the style choice of having Wilee approach a situation, and use his bike-messenger super power of slow-mo vision to run three scenarios of where to ride his bike and what would happen to him.  For example, he approaches an intersection - he looks left, envisions himself riding that way, only to crash into a jogger.  He looks center - no, collides with a taxi.  He looks to the right and sees a clear path on the sidewalk, check - rides to the right.  That is cool - the first time you see it, but again, it's overused a little.
The cast is believable and entertaining:
  • Joseph Gordon Levitt again does a good job.  It's an interesting choice for him compared to some of his other choices lately.  Between the Dark Knight, this and Looper - he's having quite a year.  Incidentally, he took this movie pretty seriously, doing as much of his own riding as possible, to the point that he crashed into a taxi and had to get 31 stitches, they play that over the credits at the end of the movie.  He plays Wilee convincingly, with just the right touch of snark, and boy does he love to ride!  Or so he says over and over again while attempting to woo a fellow messenger - or maybe re-woo? 
  • Dania Ramierez plays the object of woo, a fellow messenger who rides equally fast and furious, but does put a brake on her bike.  This leads to a "brakes are death" discussion that I really didn't understand - but again, I am not a bike messenger.  She may or may not be still into Wilee, and she may or may not be attempting to make him jealous with another messenger.  She's fine in this - but really it just made me want to watch X3 again, to see Halle Berry electrocute her.
  • Wole Parks, previously seen in a bunch of New York TV shows (Gossip Girl, Law-n-Order), makes his film debut as Manny - who is the new up and coming hotness in terms of bike messengers.  His bike has fancy gears and brakes, and he's faster and prettier than everyone else - according to him anyway.  I also enjoy that he answers his phone, "Manny's office, this is Manny speaking" while riding his bike.  He's the main foil for Wilee - he's constantly hitting on Wilee's girl, he's constantly bragging that he's faster than Wilee, he's taking some of Wilee's deliveries, he's insulting Wilee's bike (not his bike!?!). 
  • Daily Show correspondant Aasif Mandvi must have had some time off this summer to be in this movie as the Bike Messenger service owner/coordinator.  He's the guy who answers the phone and tells the messengers where to go and when.
  • As mentioned, Jamie Chung plays Nima, the woman with the envelope who starts off this chain reaction of madness.  Her character is a Chinese immigrant here on a student visa (listen to Jamie fake a chinese accent), who has to secretly get money across town to - well, I suppose I shouldn't tell you, that being the big secret and all.  Nima is also a friend of Wilee's because she is Dania's roommate and also works at the law school where Wilee went.  It's a little confusing.  She has less to do here than she did in Suckerpunch...let me take this opportunity to say if you haven't seen Suckerpunch, you're one of the lucky ones and please don't.  Ever.
  • Anthony Chisholm plays an older bike messenger who seems to be in the movie to be made fun of, and to say his catchphrase: "People take heed!"  Well, he only says it twice, so maybe it's not a catchphrase...
  • Christopher Place plays a beleaguered bike cop.  It's a small role, but I'm mentioning him because he is hilarious in the pieces that he has. 
  • The reason to see this movie is Michael Shannon.  Not just because you're curious about him before he plays Zod in the new Superman next year, but because he is an Oscar nominated actor (it was for Revolutionary Road - no, I didn't see that either).  He's the villian in this and really chews into all the scenery, which is difficult, because it's always moving past very quickly.  His dirty cop is slimy and dispicable and watchable. 
So overall - it's an entertaining movie - pretty fun, decently put together.  Good, but not great.  I think however, if you are a bike messenger in New York City - or simply really into that lifestyle, you'll love this.  That is of course, if you haven't already gotten your fill from the documentary Triple Rush which is also about bike messengers and was filmed at the same time, using many of the same extras - so that messenger flash mob at the end?  All real bike messengers. 
6 out of 10.  Gained points for the slick camera tricks that made me feel like I was riding the bike.  Also lost points for that - as it went on, it got closer to making me nauseous.  Gained points for Wole Parks - he was fun.  Lost points for Nima showing up at the place where Wilee was supposed to deliver the envelope to, right after he delivered it - which was just after 7:00 pm, which of course was the climax of the movie.  So - why couldn't she have just taken it there herself?

Bonus Video 1: Some Random Velodrome action - seriously, the Individual Pursuit is one of the most bizarre sports ever, only to be outdone by the team pursuit.
Bonus Video 2: The first part of the first episode of Third Rock From the Sun - in case you forgot where JGL started...
Bonus Video 3:  ...and then there's Angels in the Outfield:
Bonus Video 4:  Cast interviews!

1 comment:

  1. Nothing new that we haven’t seen or heard before, but it still has some fun with itself, even if the writing really takes away from it. Nice review Jeanette.