It's a shame Premium Rush didn't open last week during Crankworx because it's about a New York City bike messenger whose afternoon gets a whole lot more fast-paced when he picks up his last delivery of the day, or maybe his life.
For the hardcore biking crowd of course, urban bike messenger action is nothing new — it introduced one of the early Kranked films and the subsequent rise of tiny POV cameras and internet video has led to everything from feature documentaries to YouTube alley cat adrenaline reels.
But this week, fixed-gear urban biking gets the Hollywood treatment as Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises) out-pedals shitty luck and a bunch of bad guys through the perilous streets of NYC in what looks like a solid B-thriller.
There were no pre-screenings (usually a bad sign) but the trailers seem fun in a "late-summer-thrills" kind of way. The talent involved is on-point as well — Gordon-Levitt loves filmmaking enough to start a collaborative website about it. Bad guy Michael Shannon (Runaways, Take Shelter) is not known to mess around with uninteresting crap, either. The guy is a real actor's actor. Add that it's all written and directed by David Koeppe, the scribe behind hits like Jurassic Park, Carlito's Way, Spider-Man and more, Premium Rush looks mighty promising (It also looks like one long-ass chase scene but at least it's only 90 minutes long).
From a cultural perspective, I suppose it's nice to see bikes — sustainable, zero-emission, healthy modes of transport — as the heroes in an action movie rather than Hummers and hot rods. Too bad the touchy-feely bike messengers will never be as cool as the kids in Rad, that bodacious BMX flick filmed in Calgary that made up for its shot-recycling meagre budget with a healthy dose of pure radness (and a young Lori Loughlin, a.k.a. Aunt Becky from Full House).
Premium Rush opens Friday across this great nation and at the good old Village 8. Rad came out in 1986 and is the Download of the Week. Line of Sight, released on DVD last month, looks to be one of the better bike messenger documentaries out there and Red Light Go is apparently about real NYC bike messenger culture so that might be worth checking too. Most of the best documentaries never hit theatres anymore.
As we saw last Saturday at the Redbull Joyride, the bike community is only getting larger, so if Premium Rush does well don't be surprised to see it spawning sequels similar to the way The Fast and The Furious did. Hollywood loves a built-in audience (and, apparently, cheese-dick movie titles).
Keeping with the need for speed, Hit and Run also opens Friday. It's about an ex-bank robber/getaway driver in witness protection (and named Charles Bronson) whose past comes knocking one morning, with a golf club to the face. Turns out his old bank-robbing buddy (Bradley Cooper) is out of the joint, feeling betrayed and looking for some of the loot. Cue car chase scenes and sun soaked, dusty Californian landscapes as Charlie and his sweet girlfriend (Kristin Bell) try to get over their issues, at 120 miles per hour.
The car chases are the standout — apparently they used all real stunt drivers and no CGI. Some crass humour and a 1:40 run time dish up a few moments of real fun. Like any good crime-committing vehicle, Hit and Run is a rental.
Still on the roads, fanatic film lovers can make the drive to Vancouver to check out Samsar, the latest filmed-in-70mm visual masterpiece from the team behind Baraka.