Going into this movie, I knew it would have an immediate disadvantage in my mind: I hate people who ride bikes on the street. Like they think they’re cars or something… Don’t they realize they force all cars in the right lane to drift over to the oncoming traffic lane so that we don’t murder them? Don’t they realize that they cause inconvenience to everyone just so they can do their stupid exercise routine? Bike riders are such inconsiderate people. I remember even back in college, I would be walking to class, minding my own business, and bike riders would whiz in front of me, or cut me off, and yell frantically “ON YOUR LEFT ON YOUR LEFT”. Dude, shut up, it’s 7:30 AM. Don’t yell at me about moving out of your way on a sidewalk. I don’t even want to think about the amount of times I tripped or almost tripped on a bike tire that inconsiderately went in front of me back then. And these are just casual bike riders. Turns out professional bike riders are worse…
I know they are supposed to be the good guys, but the bike messengers in Premium Rush did absolutely nothing to make me sympathize for their lifestyle. They are constantly going between moving cars, yelling at people to move out of their way on the sidewalks, and are basically just being rude people. At one point during the opening montage about “what bike messengers are all about (RADICAL, DUDE!)”, as one of them almost gets cut off by a car (because you know, CARS HAVE NO PLACE ON THE STREET, AM I RIGHT? #bikes4ever) she takes off her bike chain and smashes their side view mirror, then pedals away…! …What a jerk! I think I was supposed to laugh at that part, and be like “Yeah! You show them bicycle girl! Stick it to the cars!” But I was more infuriated. What a bunch of entitled, rude people. They are constantly hitting cars, and getting hit BY cars, and I’m supposed to feel bad for them because they CHOOSE to mingle with traffic? As a car driver, I would like to say to any potential bike riders who ride on the street who read this: WE DON’T LIKE YOU. PLEASE STOP DOING THAT. YOUR RECREATIONAL EXERCISE IS INCONVENIENCING THE PEOPLE IN THE GIANT DEATH MOBILES WHO DON’T WANT TO ACCIDENTALLY MURDER YOU.
Anyway, the movie was about a bike messenger played by JGL who gets a package that a crooked cop played by Michael Shannon wants to get hold of so he can pay off some gambling debts. JGL is fine in the role, but his character is probably the biggest asshole of them all. “No gears, no brakes” is his philosophy. So cool, right…? “Brakes will kill you” he says. So the whole movie becomes an energy drink commercial about a dude risking his life by driving into oncoming traffic, flying through intersections, and outrunning police officers. If he were smarter, he could have left his bike on a bike rack somewhere, hopped in a taxi, and gotten driven to the delivery location completely undetected. But ya know, whatever dude, BIKEZ 4 LYFE.
Michael Shannon is great in a scenery chewing role as the villain. It actually seemed like he wanted to be in this movie. He’s constantly yelling and looking creepy and it’s great. One of the correspondents from The Daily Show whose name I can’t think of right now has a small role as the bike dispatcher. He’s kinda funny, but not really THAT funny. You can tell he didn’t improvise very much. The worst person on the cast award easily goes to Jamie Chung, who I’m convinced is one of the worst actresses outside of a SyFy Channel movie. In this movie she is asked to do a Chinese accent, which she butchers. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an Asian American actress fail to do an Asian accent, but it results in something very uncomfortable. Like it almost felt racist. I think they had two better options; the first being to lose the accent (no one would care about the logistics really), or the better second option of casting a better actress. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find a young, Asian actress who could outperform the wooden delivery of all of Chung’s lines. And maybe they would bring something else to the table other than her frozen “concerned face” emotion she had in EVERY SINGLE SCENE.
I don’t like Jamie Chung.
JGL’s character/character development is also frustrating. It’s mentioned in dialogue that he used to be a BMX rider, so of course at one point he gets his hands on a dirt bike and rides all over a bunch of cop cars and does some wicked grinds all over the police station railings. This movie seemed very Heroes vs. Cops in attitude. The truth of it is that Michael Shannon was a bad cop, but JGL should have been arrested/fined for numerous other infractions he committed that day as well. He also risks his life for most of the movie to get a $30 payoff from his dispatcher… I would have handed over the package to the cop the FIRST time he tried to run me over. “Yeah, a cop took it” – the line I would tell the dispatcher/client.
He also has seemingly unlimited endurance and stamina, as the movie’s action takes place at 5:30 pm, AFTER he’s already spent an entire day delivering things on his bike. And he seemed pretty fast and agile on a bike near the end of the movie even AFTER he gets hit by a car and breaks his ribs… UNREALISTIC.
The movie did have some style, though, I’ll give it that. It was fast paced, and despite the bashing I’ve been giving it, it was fun when it was supposed to be. It was like a Guy Ritchie film mixed with a 1990s Mondo commercial.
It did hit a MAJOR dull point halfway through, when we have to endure the story of Jamie Chung’s son, which she wants to have imported from China or something like that. There are a lot of flashbacks and time shifts in the film. Some are good (like the one where JGL obtains his bicycle) and some really bad (like Chung’s boring money exchange scene). I almost would have liked the film way better if we NEVER knew what was in the envelope, and JGL just had to deliver it out of some insane duty to his $30 payoff. Like the first scene of the movie was him getting the envelope, then the second scene is him almost getting murdered, then the action just keeps escalating from there until he delivers the package, then woman who gets the package smiles and the movie ends. I guess that would be a little too abstract for a movie about bike messengers. Instead we have to have the plot dictated to us like we’re morons, at the expense of the great pacing they initially set up. I also didn’t care for the “We’re bike messengers, bro, we do what we do, just cuz” spirit the film had. What a load of shit. If they actually had a carefree attitude like that, then the movie would have looked more like that 1986 Kevin Bacon bike messenger movie:
And Premium Rush ends with the most ridiculously hilarious/nauseatingly lame “BIKE MESSENGERS UNITE” scene they could have thought up. Had I been a producer at the movie studio that made this, and the writer pitched me that scene, I would have laughed and said “Haha, no really, what actually happens in film’s climactic scene? That’s pretty funny though, you’re a funny guy. OK, go ahead. Give me the real scene.”
Premium Rush is a stupid movie. But it is stupid in the most fun kind of way. But it’s still stupid.
5.5 out of 10