In Shoot ‘Em Up, Hollywood gave audiences a new, health-conscious kind of action hero in Clive Owen’s gunman who chooses to gnaw on carrots rather than Clint Eastwood’s cigars.  Now Premium Rush continues and develops the healthy hero trend, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s courier Wilee riding a bike instead of tooling around in a pollution-and-noise-producing auto like the Batmobile or Mad Max‘s Main Force Patrol Interceptor.  The bicycle messengers of New York City, it turns out, actually lead perilously exciting lives and emerge as unsung heroes of sport and private enterprise while also menacing mainstream traffic.

Gordon-Levitt, who against the odds has left behind TV sitcom cutedom to break into mature, masculine lead roles in a major way this summer, stands a chance to become one of the action heroes of Generation Y based on his likeable turns in Premium Rush, The Dark Knight Rises, and – we’re hoping – in his upcoming pairing with Bruce Willis in Looper, hitting screens in September.  Gordon-Levitt’s Wilee is a new kind of hero, a far cry from the Stallones and Schwarzeneggers of yesteryear; he’s philosophical, triumphing through (mostly) non-violent athleticism, split-second risk-taking, and hypothetical physics-informed bicycling strategy.

He needs everything in his physical and mental arsenal when he finds himself pursued across NYC by a bike cop and a crooked police detective villainously named Monday (Michael Shannon, who resembles a young Malcolm McDowell both facially and in intensity) in a feature-length chase setup that recalls Night of the Juggler‘s use of the city’s streets.  Like that film, Premium Rush never lets up and, in short, delivers what the title advertises.  5 stars.  Highly recommended entertainment.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Premium Rush is:

5. Multiculturalist.  Wilee receives much-needed aid from a multiracial horde of his bike messenger colleagues.

4. Pro-immigration.  Wilee’s “premium rush” delivery will help a Chinese mother bring her son to the U.S.

3. Multiply pro-miscegenation.

2. Anti-police.  Detective Monday is a vicious, corrupt murderer who abuses his authority.  Other police, even while well-meaning and simply trying to do their jobs, act as pesky antagonists toward the hero throughout the film.

1. Green.  Apart from the glorification of Wilee’s choice of transportation, NYC’s hybrid mass transit system also puts in a cameo.

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