Premium Rush (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 4, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“Premium Rush” is an exciting popcorn action film made better thanks to the cast of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon. If you are looking for a fast-paced action film, definitely give “Premium Rush” a chance!
TITLE: Premium Rush
THEATRICAL RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 131 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen),Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Mandarin Dolby Digital Stereo, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Directed by David Koepp
Written by David Koepp and John Kamps
Produced by Gavin Polone
Executive Produced by Mari-Jo Winkler
Music by David Sardy
Cinematography by Michell Amundsen
Edited by Derek Ambrosi, Jill Savitt
Casting by Pat McCorkle, John PApsidera
Production Design by Therese DePrez
Set Decoration by George DeTitta, Jr.
Cosume Design by Luca Mosca
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Wilee
Dania Ramirez as Vanessa
Michael Shannon as Bobby Monday
Jamie Chung as Nima
Wole Parks as Manny
Aasif Mandvi as Raj
Christopher Place as Bike Cop
Anthony Chisholm as Tito
Ashley Austin Morris as Receptionist
Dodging speeding cars, crazed cabbies and eight million cranky pedestrians is all in a day’s work for Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the best of New York’s agile and aggressive bicycle messengers. It takes a special breed to ride the fixie – super lightweight, single-gear bikes with no brakes and riders who are equal part skilled cyclists and nutcases who risk becoming a smear on the pavement every time they head into traffic. But a guy who’s used to putting his life on the line is about to get more than even he is used to when his last envelope of the day – a routine “premium rush” run – turns into a life or death chase through the streets of Manhattan. Also starring Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung. For International Only: Dodging speeding cars, crazed cabbies and eight million cranky pedestrians is all in a day’s work for Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the best of New York’s agile and aggressive bicycle messengers. It takes a special breed to ride the fixie bike. Riders who are equal part skilled cyclists and nutcases who risk becoming a smear on the pavement every time they head into traffic. But a guy who puts his life on the line everyday is about to get more than even he is used to when his last envelope of the day – a routine “premium rush” run – turns into a life or death chase through the streets of Manhattan. Also starring Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung.
From David Koepp, director of “Ghost Town” and “Stir of Echoes” and the writer for hit films such as “Jurassic Park”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Panic Room” and “Spider-Man” comes the 2012 action film “Premium Rush”.
Co-written with John Kamps (“Ghost Town”, “Zathura: A Space Adventure”), the action film would star Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception”, “(500) Days of Summer”, “The Dark Knight Rises”), Michael Shannon (“Take Shelter”, “Vanilla Sky”,”Bad Boys II”, “Pearl Harbor”), Dania Ramirez (“X-Men: The Last Stand”, “25th Hour”) and Jamie Chung (“Sucker Punch”, “Hangover Part II”, “Grownups”).
The action film received positive review from critics but for a film that showcases the risky life of a bicycle messenger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was injured during the filming as the actor hit a taxi and flew into the rear windshield of the taxi, slashing his arm which required 31 stitches and the aftermath of this accident is shown during the credits of the film.
And now “Premium Rush” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in Dec. 2012.
The film is set in New York City and begins with bicycle messenger Wilee (portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt getting into a car accident and landing hard onto the pavement). The film then goes back several hours to show what led to the accident.
We learn that Wilee is a former law student but chose to become a bicycle messenger, because he enjoys the risk and challenge. But it’s a competitive job and he’s often being challenged on jobs from his rival, Manny (portrayed by Wole Parks). Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend Vanessa (portrayed by Dania Ramirez), also a bicycle messenger, but who is planning to leave the job after graduating from college to find a safer desk job.
But all things are not good with Vanessa as her roommate Nima (portrayed by Jamie Chung) has told her that she needs to move out of the apartment.
A job comes up for Wilee and that is to pickup a package at his old alma mater. And when Wilee arrives to the college, he finds out the person who is sending a package is Nima and that the urgent package must be delivered safely and quickly.
As Wilee is about to leave and deliver the package, a man claiming to work at the College tries to stop him and asks for him to give him the package. Wilee tells him that when the package is in his possession, his job is to deliver it, and the fact the man didn’t know Nima’s name throws up a red flag that the man is just a stranger.
While Wilee is out delivering the package, he is chased by the man to the point that it becomes so dangerous that Wilee is risking his life in the traffic trying to escape and deliver the package.
The film then shifts to show us two different storylines of the individuals involved.
The man chasing Wilee is Bobby Monday, a corrupt NYPD officer who has gotten himself into major gambling debt. It is learned that a loan shark named Mr. Lin is offering to clear Monday’s debt if he can retrieve a package that is coming from Nima. Desperate in getting the package, we learn of Bobby Monday’s motivation.
Meanwhile, we learn from Nima’s story that she has saved $50,000 for two years working three jobs in order to pay Mr. Leung (portrayed by Henry O), a Chinese hawaladar, in exchange for a ticket that must get to a person named Sister Chen, which would allow for Nima’s son and her mother to be smuggled aboard Sister Chen’s ship from China to the United States.
But as Wilee must deliver the package to Sister Chen by 7 p.m. (or else Nima loses everything). It’s not going to be easy as Bobby Monday is doing all he can to get the ticket, meanwhile NYPD is after Wilee for being involved in situations that led to accidents in the city.
And throughout the day, we learn of what had taken place throughout the day before Wilee’s got into an accident but also find out whether or not he would be successful in delivering the package in time.
“Premium Rush” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). First, let me give credit to Mitchell Amundsent (“Pearl Harbor”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”, “The Bourne Supremacy”, “Armageddon”) for his cinematography of the film and just making the audience feel the adrenaline pumping action of various chase scenes as these bike messengers are weaving in and out of traffic and just the sense that they are close to getting hit by a car or crashing into someone. The camera manages to stay on both Wilee and antagonist Monday very effectively and it was interesting of how they were able to capture the speed and danger of riding through New York City on camera.
But it helps to have Mitchell Amundsent, who has worked in action films such as “Sea Biscuit”, “Mission: Impossible III”, “The Bourne Legacy” involved in this film. Part of the efficacy was capturing the sense of speed and danger and Amundsent accomplished that!
As for overall picture quality, the film looks very good on Blu-ray. Great clarity and detail in HD. From the damage seen of Wiley’s bike, the sweat on the characters, there is a good amount of detail that can be seen in this film.
I personally saw no problems of artifacts, banding or anything negative during my viewing of the film. Overall, “Premium Rush” looks great on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Premium Rush” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Plus an English – Audio Descriptive Track. For the most part, dialogue is crystal clear, as with the music playing in the film. But while there are occasional fender benders and and fights, most of the surround channel use of this film comes through ambiance and the music of David Sardy (“21”, “The Green Hornet”, “Wanted”) and special effects that show up when the time is shown on screen. But the ambiance of New York City traffic, ambiance from crowded areas does come alive throughout the film. But for an action film such as “Premium Rush”, the lossless soundtrack was good.
Subtitles are in English.
“Premium Rush” comes with the following special features:
- The Starting Line – (9:30) Director David Koepp talks about how he came up with the idea of “Premium Rush” and what he wanted to accomplish. Also, actors chime in on working on “Premium Rush”.
- Behind the Wheels – (12:51) A featurette about changing the dynamics of the various chase scenes in “Premium Rush”.
“Premium Rush” is an exciting action film that delves into the lives of the New York City bicycle messengers and the risks and challenges they must undergo on a daily basis.
The fact that the film was able to be shot on the busy streets of New York City is a surprise but for an action film “Premium Rush” is a very exciting and fascinating popcorn action film.
While I know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt risked his life and got injured while filming this movie, but I was surprised to see him star in this type of action film. We have seen Gordon-Levitt in big budget action films such as “Inception”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and most recently in “Looper”, he also tends to shine when taking on serious roles or non-action roles such as “Lincoln”, “50/50” and cult hit “(500) Days of Summer”.
But “Premium Rush” goes to show that the actor is willing to take chances and not bypass any role given, especially if he is the primary actor.
Gordon-Levitt pretty much carries this film on his shoulders and together with Michael Shannon as the main antagonist, I don’t really know if anyone else today in Hollywood could have pulled of this film with this much excitement and overall efficacy. When you think of young actors in starring roles of today, I just don’t see Michael Cera, Elijah Wood, Channing Tatum or Shia LeBeouf pulling off this role. Joseph Gordon-Levitt looked like an expert on a bike, someone who was fit to ride the bike and someone who looked quick enough to take on these action scenes featuring the character of Wilee zipping in and out of traffic.
While “Premium Rush” does give the viewers the thrill and rush of having a job of a bicycle messenger, there are two things that remained in my head after watching the film and that was, do most bike messengers think the job is the “best in the world?” and this concept of “flash mob” among the bike messengers, does that even exit? I wouldn’t know.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality was very good. From the overall lighting and clarity, “Premium Rush” is a film that demanded quick cinematography to follow the bikers and for the best conditions for everything to come together and seem believable. But overall, detail and clarity of the film is quite evident. The lossless soundtrack is very good and you get a good amount of crowd and traffic ambiance throughout the film that sounds really good coming through the surround channels. But with the many flashbacks and dialogue, dialogue is crystal clear, as with the music of the film.
While I do feel quite positively about the film, was there anything I disliked? Jamie Chung is an up-and-coming actress (who is Korean) but the faux Chinese accent was off. But with that being said, I think that the accent would probably fly over the heads of many viewers and would irk the people who speak are around those who speak Chinese.
The second thing is that an action film around a bike messenger may be too difficult for some people to watch and some parts of the film may seem a bit too farfetched. I’m not sure about this “flash mob” or whether or not it does exist among the various bike messenger companies. But really, I’m not going to hate on this film because I enjoyed it.
This is a popcorn action film after all, it’s not meant to be anything too deep and for the most part, the storyline is kept simple and followed the action quite well!
Overall, “Premium Rush” is an exciting popcorn action film that is made better thanks to the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon. I suppose that so many things could have gone wrong for the making of this film but thankfully, this adrenaline pumping action film was worth watching. Recommended!
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