Friday, January 18, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Premium Rush (2012) *½

PG-13, 91 min.
Director: David Koepp
Writers: David Koepp, John Kamps
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Wolé Parks, Jamie Chueng, Aasif Mandvi, Christopher Place, Henry O

“Jurassic Park”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Panic Room”, “Spider-Man”, “Secret Window”, “War of the Worlds”, “Zathura: A Space Adventure”, “Ghost Town”—Those are some of the good screenplays written by David Koepp. “Toy Soldiers”, “Death Becomes Her”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, “The Shadow”, and “Snake Eyes” are some of his worst. “Premium Rush” will categorically fall in the latter set of Koepp screenplays. This movie is bad.  Its collection of clichés is rendered laughable by its even greater collection of ridiculous coincidences and utter impossibilities.

It pulls the curtain back on the life of the New York City bike currier in a fashion that I’m sure will have every NYC bike currier rolling on the floor laughing. The life of a currier is dangerous—which I’m sure is true to a good degree. So, the hero faces his job that nets him somewhere between $50 to $80 a day, from what I could tell, with the intensity of a general preparing to invade a powerful country. This is life and death, folks; and people’s lives depend on their deliveries.

They quite literally do here as the villain, a cop, finds himself in debt to some Chinese bookies who inform him of a package that would eliminate his debts should he steal it. Otherwise, he might have to disappear. The package in question is also a matter of life and death for the person who sends it, but I’ll leave the reasons for that for you poor souls to discover should you want to torture yourselves with this movie after this review.

Question—How do the Chinese bookies know about the package before it has even originated?

The movie gives you a handy clock to let you know how long you have until the events reach their destination point. Of course, the clock is also handy since the time line has been fractured out of sequence to hide certain elements of the plot from the audience, and apparently from the screenwriter himself, such as when the cop learns of the package sometime between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. when the package isn’t even created until about 10 or 15 minutes after 4 p.m. I’m sure someone will inform me about how I’ve misinterpreted the clock. If that’s the case, does this simple plot really need to be rendered that confusing by a scattered timeline?

Anyway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the currier who doesn’t care about anything or anyone until he does. Michael Shannon plays the cop who is so insane the NYPD IA department should hang their heads in shame. Of course, these two actors are about the only watchable elements of the movie. They are good at making their ridiculous cutout characters interesting.

Questions—If only the best currier in the city can get the package to its destination on time, how does every other major character in the plot, including the woman who sent the package, manage to get to its ultimate destination by the time it needs to be there? If she could get to the place by the time it needed to be there, especially since she didn’t even begin her journey there until two hours after she sent the currier, what the hell did she need him for?

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