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Originally published Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 9:01 AM

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'Premium Rush': Bike-messenger chase delivers popcorn-movie fun

A movie review of "Premium Rush," an action thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger racing across Manhattan with a cop (Michael Shannon) in hot pursuit. It's good popcorn-movie fun.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Premium Rush,' with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung. Directed by David Koepp, from a screenplay by Koepp and John Kamps. 89 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language. Several theaters.

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reminds me of when jamie foxx blew up after ray and they pumped out that ridiculous... MORE
Id go, but im pretty sure my bike wont fit in the isles. MORE

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David Koepp's action thriller "Premium Rush" is not at all complicated: It's about a guy on a bike who's being chased by a guy in a car. The guy on the bike is a messenger played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, unsung hero of "The Dark Knight Rises"; the guy in the car is a cop played by Michael Shannon, a marvelous portrayer of the slightly unhinged ("Take Shelter," "Revolutionary Road"). The bike guy's name is Wilee, as in Wile E. Coyote; the car guy is Bobby Monday, and he's already a day too late.

There's an envelope that must be raced across Manhattan by Wilee on his bike, for which a troubled-looking office worker (Jamie Chung, acclaimed at SIFF in "Eden") has paid premium rush rates; Bobby Monday wants that envelope and its mysterious contents, and seems more than willing to race Wilee across town to get it. Who will win? Who will get a flat tire? Will FedEx get involved?

Nothing about "Premium Rush" is particularly subtle, but it's good popcorn-movie fun as we race breathlessly through the city with Gordon-Levitt, aided by the frequent appearance of GoogleMaps (on Wilee's phone). A digital clock reminds us of the time (this movie unfolds in something close to real time, between about 5:30 and 7 on a sunny day); and the taxi-clogged streets of Manhattan provide a fine backdrop for what can only be called bicycle theatrics. Wilee has an uncanny way, midcycle, of planning out multiple possible routes at any given moment; we see, in his imagination, the crashes that he isn't actually having. (Clever trick; the audience can groan happily at the accident and mayhem without it having any consequence for the characters.)

Shannon, tousled and fidgety and barking out his lines as if they hurt, provides some oddball humor; telling fellow cops, as an excuse to go back to his desk, "Um, I forgot my bullets." Silly stuff, but for an end-of-summer matinee you could do a whole lot worse — and, by this point of the summer, probably have.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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