Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Premium Rush

Film #69


In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.

Year 1, Day 68

BEFORE: Coming to you live from a theater somewhere in Boston (don’t be creepy), is Premium Rush. Judging by the trailer, it doesn’t seem like it will be a perfect film but something that will be very entertaining.

AFTER: Right off the bat I must say Premium Rush exceeded expectations. It turned out to be much more intriguing than the action-packed but minimal-story film I thought it would be.

Before I get into the film, let me talk about the projection. Yet again, I was able to experience a 4K projection. I must commend AMC theaters for making the switch to 4K projectors and what I would assume are projectors capable of handling the upcoming The Hobbit film in 48 fps. When I saw The Bourne Legacy last week, I said…

If it truly was 4K, I couldn’t tell any difference. It looked the exact same as a standard 2K projection. So, either it wasn’t really 4K or it was but I didn’t see a noticeable increase in resolution.

My statement remains the same: I didn’t see that big of a difference. This time around I could notice some minor enhancements to the visual quality of the film but they were just that: minor enhancements. From all the discussion about how great 4K is and the fact that it’s four times the resolution of the current film standard, 2K, I was expecting big changes, as in 480p (SD) to 1080p (HD). The difference between those two resolutions are very noticeable to the point that in a side-by-side comparison, you could easily tell the difference between SD and HD. The increase in resolution to 4K is more like an increase from 720p to 1080p. In other words, it’s not as standout as the increase from SD to HD and it would be tough to tell the difference between 2K and 4K in a side-by-side projection

But enough about resolution and projection, how was the actual movie. Well, as I said before, it exceeded expectations. How? Because it had some cool storytelling techniques, most notably, the travel animations. Most of the film is based around traveling through New York City to deliver a package from point A to point B. Premium Rush uses a combination of tilt-shift photography, computer generated maps, and route overlays to show where exactly the story is taking place and where it will take place a few minutes from now. It’s a very clever way to explain something that is hard to convey in a short amount of time.

Also exceeding my expectations is the acting. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the bike courier Wilee who is delivering a very important message. What is so great about his acting is how honest he comes across. In the scene where Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) confronts Wilee, Gordon-Levitt seamlessly transitions from a “Come on man, I’ve got to make this delivery, why are you stopping me?” attitude to a “Oh shit, this guy isn’t joking around, he’ll do anything to get this envelope,” attitude. It feels like a very natural progression for his character in that situation and strengthened my connection to the character and his state of peril.

The downside to the film is the almost exclusive focus on biking. I’d guess between 70-80% of the scenes take place on a bike traveling at 30 mph putting pedestrians in harms way. These scenes are fun and exhilarating, especially in some very intense chase scenes at the end, but it gets repetitive after a while. We get it; Wilee can ride a bike really well. We’ve seen that for the past half-hour now show us something new. A handful of calmer scenes without bikes are thrown in to establish and develop the plot but they are few and far between. The action is fun to watch but the story and the characters are more important and they took a bit of a back seat.

Overall, Premium Rush is very good. Some clever storytelling techniques and terrific acting really helped this film shine. There were even many comedic moments with a huge shout-out to Bike Cop (Christopher Place) who is the funniest part of the film. It’s not a must-see film but I definitely recommend it.

RATING: 4 out of 5