Premium Rush review

JG-L switches gears…

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Despite making his screen entrance in a nasty road accident, Joseph Gordon-Levitt emerges mostly unscathed from David Koepp’s bicycle chaser, credibility-wise at least.

A goofy thriller about hipsters doing cool shit on hot bikes was bound to be a comedown in his Looper/Dark Knight Rises year, unless you count Kevin Bacon’s 1986 rarity Quicksilver as a lost classic.

But with Koepp directing slickly and Gordon-Levitt flaunting the working-Joe appeal of a Keanu Reeves who can act, the result plays like a two-wheeled half- Speed : daft but fun.

Pumping out cod- Point Break lifestyle-speak (“I like to ride…”) as NYC bike messenger Wilee, Gordon-Levitt works up an agreeable sweat. So does Koepp, lunging the camera through traffic and into the air to map-nav routes before staging game-style live/die options at road junctions.

Brisk pace set, he then tricks up the timeline, dialling back from the opening crash to show how Wilee takes charge of delivering a mystery letter that gets bad cop Bobby (Michael Shannon) on his tail.

The plot threatens to tank when it reverses again, but Shannon’s raging-bull Bobby engages as Koepp fills in the blanks around his interest in Wilee’s cargo.

Pity Jamie Chung is a blank as the enigma behind the loaded letter, her story precipitating twists that feel ham-fisted in a film primarily interested in the low-brow thrill of the chase.

But if the pace never fully recovers from the mid-stretch, and if plausibility croaks in bike-on-car crunches that no one could peel themselves up off the road from, Rush just about still hits the target teased by Wilee’s name.

Making sure to drop in the question, “as in Coyote?”, Koepp dispatches Rush as a live-action cartoon that gains what traction it has from extended races on real streets, Shannon’s hefty nasty and Gordon-Levitt’s game performance.

How game? Wait for the end-credits outtakes and see. Not totally unscathed, then.

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Freelance writer

Kevin Harley is a freelance journalist with bylines at Total Film, Radio Times, The List, and others, specializing in film and music coverage. He can most commonly be found writing movie reviews and previews at GamesRadar+.