‘Premium Rush’ offers a rush

Sarah Shatz/Columbia TriStar
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Columbia Pictures’ “Premium Rush,” which opened in theaters last Friday.

By Sarah George

I have a terrible habit of falling asleep during movies, in particular, action movies. It’s a terrible affliction, considering the fact that I’m a film major with a mean case of attention deficit disorder.

My brain would rather slip into a REM cycle then watch a flick jam-packed with the actors repeating the same fight or chase sequence, or defying the laws of physics.

I went into “Premium Rush” thinking that my only hope was Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s chiseled bone structure would be enough to keep my interest.

Fortunately, this movie was pretty great on a number of levels.

Recently dumped, college-dropout Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is just going through a normal day at his job as a bike messenger in New York City. When he picks up a package from his ex-girlfriend Vanessa’s (Dania Ramirez) roommate, Nima (Jamie Chung), his day takes a turn for the worst.

On his way to rush deliver the package, he’s stopped by a man who claims to be in charge of it. Sticking to his scruples and the requirements of his job, he blows the guy off, and the chase begins. He soon learns he’s being chased by NYPD detective Robert Monday (Michael Shannon). The audience spends the rest of the movie deciphering the importance of the package and putting all the pieces and characters together.

First, I have to give this movie credit for keeping my attention. The filmmakers owe that in part to a semi-realistic premise, unexpected twists and a quick pace. From what I could see, no laws of physics were broken in the making of this film. All the stunts looked pretty doable for a trained professional, and there were hardly any dodged bullets. While it lacked a little spectacle for an action movie, the connection that most people make with the probability of bike-related injuries kept the audience on its toes — almost more so than a shootout or hand-to-hand combat.

By far, the best part of the film was how they brought the audience into the mind of the cyclist. Through unique Steadi-cam, Go -Pro shots, cool GPS map graphics, time cues and transitions, the story moved back and forth through time with a relative amount of ease.

One of the coolest ways the director brought us into Wilee’s world was through the use of slow motion. Much like the slow motion used in the fight sequences in “Sherlock Holmes,” the filmmakers “paused” time and went through Wilee’s thoughts as he decided between the possible routes that might prevent him from imminent death.

Many action movies tend to move around in time in order to keep audiences’ attention. This can either help them or hurt them. This technique was almost the downfall of “Premium Rush.”

If you don’t fully listen and follow the transitions carefully, the probability of getting lost is extremely high, more so than when watching other popular action movies. They did, however, manage to resolve everything at the end of the film.

You might leave this film either wanting to become a bike messenger or refusing to ever get back onto a bike. I’m still a little undecided. It’s always a possibility if college doesn’t work out.