‘Premium Rush’: The Reviews Are In!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's new bike-messenger actioner is 'a breakneck chase movie' that's 'nimble' and 'quick,' according to critics.

Who needs the Batpod when a standard bicycle will do just fine? Even without further “Dark Knight” movies in his future , it looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s days as an action lead are far from over, judging by the glowing reviews for his new flick “Premium Rush,” in theaters now.

Directed by David Koepp and co-starring Michael Shannon, “Premium Rush” follows Wilee (Gordon-Levitt), the best bike messenger in New York City, on a mission to deliver a package for his girlfriend’s roommate. What should be a routine assignment takes a turn for the deadly when unhinged NYPD detective Bobby Monday (Shannon) enters the scene, seeking possession over the package for his own mysterious reasons.

Described by one critic as “the thinking person’s mindless entertainment,” Gordon-Levitt’s “Premium Rush” looks to be one of the most enjoyable thrill rides of the summer season. Read on for a round-up of reviews.

The Premise

“‘Premium Rush’ is a breakneck chase movie about the daredevils who work as Manhattan bicycle messengers. With a map of the city imprinted in their brains, they hurtle down sidewalks, run red lights, go against traffic, jump obstacles and insist on using bikes without brakes. Whatever they’re paid, it’s not enough. … Why do they work so hard and dangerously for relatively little money? They seem to do it for the high. They don’t see themselves wearing suits and working in office cubicles. In the story told by ‘Premium Rush,’ it’s less of a job, more of a noble mission, as three messengers outrace the NYPD to deliver a gambling ticket that only one of them knows the story behind.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Action
“Koepp wants to capture the immediacy of bike messengers zipping through hostile territory, but ‘Premium Rush’ has an arcade elasticity that’s a few stops removed from reality. In a clever touch, he slows down the action in dangerous situations and charts the various paths Gordon-Levitt can take to get out of trouble — like a split-second Choose Your Own Adventure where two options end in bloody catastrophe and a third is a needle-thread to safety. No matter how perilous things get, he never stops having fun — and neither does the movie.” — Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
“Wilee may be a madman, but he’s an ingratiating one as well, because he’s played by Gordon-Levitt, the child actor (’3rd Rock from the Sun’) who has matured into Christopher Nolan’s favorite mensch (in ‘Inception’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’) and the smiling poster boy for indie films. So appealing is Gordon-Levitt that, for great stretches of his new movie, I suspended my disapproval of his character and just went with the nonstop flow. He almost persuaded me that the film is, if not a premium rush, then an economy high.” — Richard Corliss, Time

Maniacal Michael Shannon

“In a performance that will remind many of Christopher Walken at his best, Shannon’s Detective Monday frequently goes off on tangents about appropriate language on television and peppering his exclamations with a girlish ‘hee hee hee!’ It’s as if he’s surprised, and maybe a little tickled, to learn his predicament is making him the villain of an action film. Apropos of nothing, he tells people his name is Detective Forrest J. Ackerman. You won’t find a funnier villain turn in any studio picture this year.” — Gabe Toro, The Playlist

The Final Word
“‘Premium Rush’ is great fun — nimble, quick, the thinking person’s mindless entertainment. In the same week of ‘Hit & Run,’ which offers only meager escapism in a high-velocity realm, director and co-writer David Koepp’s thriller about a bicycle messenger pedaling for his life, up and down and across Manhattan, delivers a bracing corrective. On two wheels, only! Four’s for losers.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Check out everything we’ve got on “Premium Rush.”


Likes pizza, punch and pie. Dislikes the Chitauri.
@roundhoward