It is Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)’s job to deliver packages as a bike messenger in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Going through the traffic with a single-gear bike and no brakes, he is never close to kill himself until a Chinese woman (Jamie Chung) requests an envelope delivery to Chinatown in the end of a routine day. The dirty business between an undercover police and gangs in Chinatown complicates the simple delivery mission, and eventually leads to a life threatening experience for Wilee to successfully complete the task with the help of his girlfriend (Dania Ramirez).

It is Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)’s job to deliver packages as a bike messenger in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Going through the traffic with a single-gear bike and no brakes, he is never close to kill himself until a Chinese woman (Jamie Chung) requests an envelope delivery to Chinatown in the end of a routine day. The dirty business between an undercover police and gangs in Chinatown complicates the simple delivery mission, and eventually leads to a life threatening experience for Wilee to successfully complete the task with the help of his girlfriend (Dania Ramirez).  

Watching the bike messengers rushing in the traffic of Manhattan is thrilling, even when you don’t see one smashed over by aggressive vehicles. The use of GPS technology to navigate and a display of Wilee’s mental assessment of routes through crazy traffic really engage the audience into the thrill of the job’s nature. You can definitely feel the speed but remained comfortably seated in the theater without ending up with 31 stitches like Levitt after filming.

The mystery surrounding delivering the secret envelop might be familiar to those Asian audiences. As in some Hollywood movies criticized for stigmatizing the Chinese community, Chinatown is portrayed as the hub of Chinese speaking gangsters who are associated with illegal activities. On the other hand, the bike messengers show strong sympathy for the Chinese woman who works hard to have her son imported to the US. This is a cross-racial encouragement for those who align well with the value of pursuing an American dream: knowing what you want and work hard to get it.

The “bad guy” in the movie is the undercover police played by Michael Shannon. He is so bad that his role seems too dominating in the film. It is perhaps too extreme to have a complete “bright side” and a “dark side” in the film, and the dark side heavily lies on one character. However, the tension is supported by this setup so the audience is constantly intrigued.

For those adventurous souls, the film can make you want to grab your bike and hit the streets, feel the speed and freedom as you paddle through the city. You may also want to put your bike away, to stay safe and sound as you see the terribly real and scary simulations of bikers running into cars. Either way, “Premium Rush” will surely take your breath away.

Rated: PG-13
Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes




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