“Premium Rush” and the Art of Cotton Candy Movies- by Dustin Brewer

Not every movie doomed to come out in the fall months before award season have to be tremendous misfires and gigantic financial failures. Some movies simply set out to entertain audiences with mindless, death-defying antics. Dustin looks at “Premium Rush” and cements its’ place as a cotton candy movie legend.

Photo from- Film.com

After summer as schools resume session and senior citizens once again take over public places, studios like to pump out their last few movies of the season. The throwaway movies that merely take up space and fill time while they prepare huge premieres and campaigns for award-bait movies that begin showing in November and go through the early part of the next year.

At first look, “Premium Rush” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon is one such movie, a B movie following a bike-messenger (Levitt) as he tries to keep an important envelope out of the hands of a nefarious villain hot on his heels (Shannon).

While it’s not likely to generate huge revenue at the box office and create a new bike-messenger themed franchise, it never fails to entertain during its’ brisk 90 minute runtime. Gordon-Levitt continues his hot year following his appearance in the blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises” with a performance here that doesn’t call on him to do more than look panicked and ride a bike real fast, he does however, manage to infuse the character with enough of his charm and likability that you find yourself rooting for this two-dimensional and slightly underdeveloped character nevertheless.

If Levitt is giving an example of how to underplay a role in a movie like this, Michael Shannon comes through to chew scenery like Al Pacino in the end of “The Devil’s Advocate.” His character, Bobby Monday is on a collision course with Levitt’s messenger Wilee, as he desperately needs the contents of the envelope for reasons that give his character a very human purpose as opposed to simply just having him be evil for the sake of having a villain. It helps that Shannon is a very able actor who seemed more than game for filming a breezy movie like this, that he’s been cast in the upcoming Superman movie “Man of Steel” has me interested, something I didn’t think could happen. Rumor has it he’s playing General Zod, if that’s the case I just might have to see it despite a general lack of interest in Superman and a deep seated frustration with Zach Snyder.

It’s unlikely that anyone was really clamoring for a movie about New York City bike messengers, but the execution of the stunts that their profession provides help to make you forget that being a bike messenger probably isn’t that cool.

Honestly, that’s all you need to know about “Premium Rush.” It features ridiculous set pieces and stunts involving bikes, really talented lead actors completely committed to a script that makes almost no sense and yet, it still works. The twists are revealed smartly and actually work to propel the story and humanize our characters and their motivations.

Writer/Director David Koepp has some interesting ideas that help add to the over-the-top feel of the film; including an aerial map view of NYC with a yellow line tracing Wilee’s routes and destinations as well as an odd slow-motion that lets Wilee see how different choices can play out when he has to make a quick decision.

It’s the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy; light and fluffy sugar that you enjoy despite feeling a bit guilty about enjoying it. But, when the filmmakers and actors involved realize what they’re making is not going to change the world or collect trophies, when they set out to make a movie that’s sole purpose is to entertain, the enjoyment factor goes straight up.

If you find yourself with extra time on your hands and you want to just have stupid fun for a few hours, “Premium Rush” is guaranteed to help you shut your mind off for a little while, so just sit back and enjoy.

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