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Blu-ray Reviews

Premium Rush Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher

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Posted December 16 2012 - 12:44 PM

Premium Rush is an exhilarating, exceptionally well-made chase film about a most unlikely subject - New York City bicycle messengers. Most people who have lived or worked in large cities have probably seen bicycle messengers whizz by, but nowhere is the business more competitive or more dangerous than in traffic-clogged Manhattan. Writer-Director David Koepp has fashioned a reasonably plausible story and peppered it with four astonishing chase scenes which will leave viewers amenable to overlooking the film's occasional convenient coincidences and lapses in logic.





Premium Rush

Studio: Sony
Year: 2012
Rated: PG-13
Program Length: 91 minutes                 Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p
Languages: English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; English Audio Descriptive Track
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish

The Program

Fixed gear, steel frame, no brakes.

Premium Rush is an exhilarating, exceptionally well-made chase film about a most unlikely subject - New York City bicycle messengers. Most people who have lived or worked in large cities have probably seen bicycle messengers whizz by, but nowhere is the business more competitive or more dangerous than in traffic-clogged Manhattan. Writer-Director David Koepp has fashioned a reasonably plausible story and peppered it with four astonishing chase scenes which will leave viewers amenable to overlooking the film's occasional convenient coincidences and lapses in logic.

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a law school graduate who has neglected to take the bar exam because he is repulsed by the idea of wearing a suit and working in an office. He spends his days picking up and delivering documents to addresses throughout Manhattan. Anyone who has driven in New York City gridlock on weekdays knows how slow and difficult driving there can be. Subways don't go everywhere and make frequent stops, so the quickest way to get around town is on a bicycle. Cyclists can zip in and out of traffic, they can ride on sidewalks, and they can and do ignore red lights. Wilee is recognized as New York's best bicycle messenger. He rides a bike with one gear and no brakes because it forces him to react on instinct rather than pausing to think about his alternatives.

On this particular afternoon Wilee is given the assignment of picking up an envelope at Columbia University (his alma mater) on the upper west side and delivering it to an address in Chinatown. He is a bit distracted because of an argument he has been having with his girlfriend, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), who also is a bike messenger. Vanessa also is troubled by the fact that her roommate, Nima (Jamie Chung), has insisted that Vanessa move out of their apartment. When Wilee arrives at Columbia, he discovers that Nima, who works at the university, specifically asked that he be assigned to deliver the envelope.

Wilee assumes that he is delivering an important document for the university, but as he mounts his bike to leave the campus he is accosted by Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), who insists that the envelope was given to Wilee by mistake (amusingly, Monday identifies himself as "Forrest J. Ackerman"). Wilee explains that once he picks up an item he delivers it as instructed unless his dispatcher cancels the assignment. When Monday begins to act menacingly, Wilee spins his bike around and pedals away. Monday then gets into his car and the chase is on. We learn that Monday is deeply in debt to Chinese gamblers, and the envelope which Wilee is carrying obviously contains something which is very valuable.

I have no idea how authentic the backstory about Chinese gambling is, but I have driven in Manhattan many times and I can say without fear of contradiction that Premium Rush does an outstanding job of depicting the city's streets and traffic (it should be pointed out that bike messengers also frequently have encounters with pedestrians). The film fills in the backstory with occasional flashbacks that depict events which occurred earlier in the day. In addition to being chased by Monday, Wilee has issues with a fellow messenger, Manny (Wolé Parks). Manny has his eyes on Wilee's title of best bicycle messenger and he also covets Vanessa.

The mystery about the contents of the envelope eventually is cleared up, but Premium Rush really is about the journey. And what a journey it is! Bicyclists dodging vehicles, riding the wrong way on one-way streets, avoiding potentially tragic collisions with pedestrians, and periodic close encounters with the pavement are depicted in one thrilling scene after another.

Anyone looking for deep meaning in a film will not find it in Premium Rush. However, it is an extremely fast-paced action film which will leave viewers wondering "how did they do that?" Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez and Wolé Parks are young, athletic actors who do much of their own riding and who play their parts convincingly. Michael Shannon is excellent as the violent, short-tempered and desperate Detective Monday. Aasif Mandvi of "The Daily Show" turns in a nice performance as Raj, the dispatcher. One thing is certain - you will never view bicycle messengers in quite the same light after you have seen this film.

The Video

As is almost always the case with Sony Blu-rays, the video quality is exceptional. The 2.40:1 image is consistently sharp and detailed. The on location filming in New York City is exceptional and many recognizable landmarks can be seen (at one point Wilee cycles past the Ed Sullivan Theater). The image appears to be properly framed. Colors look to be spot-on and black levels and shadow detail are excellent.

The Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is as good as the video. Dialogue is clear and understandable. The surround channels are effectively employed to convey the many ambient sounds of the city streets. The audio also does justice to composer David Sardy's pulsating music.

The Supplements

There are only two feature-related extras on this Blu-ray disc, but they are worthwhile.

"The Starting Line" is a look at the cast and crew of Premium Rush. Director David Koepp talks about how he conceived of the film and he has complimentary things to say about his actors.

"Behind the Wheels" is a very interesting look at how the cycling scenes and stunts were staged. Even with the full cooperation of City Hall, the filmmakers still had to contend with unexpected traffic and several members of the cast sustained minor injuries during the filming.

Sony also has included trailers for Looper; Total Recall; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; and Seven Psychopaths.

Instructions for downloading an UltraViolet version of the film are included.

The Packaging

The single disc is packaged in a standard Blu-ray case.

The Final Analysis

Premium Rush is aptly named. It is an exciting, original chase film which is marred only by some occasional lapses in logic and a fairly conventional ending. The film packs many thrilling moments into 91 minutes and is certainly worth the price of admission.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specification by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: December 21, 2012


Rich Gallagher





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