Enter detective Bobby Monday, a cop addicted to gambling and in dire straits with the Chinese who run the games. Bobby must have that slim packet and will, by hook or crook, take it from a surprisingly clueless Wilee who must not watch movies. At any rate, confrontations and chases define the rest of the film, with breaks only to fill in some sappy back stories, none of them developed, credible, or engaging.
Moreover, and I never thought I’d say this, Michael Shannon plays Bobby Monday with a buffoonish exaggeration that makes what should be serious scenes silly. He never connects emotionally or psychologically with Godon-Levitt who plays his role with a remarkably different tempo and style. That’s director/co-writer David Koepp’s fault. It’s his job to make the tone consistent, to provide a coherent flow. Further undermining the needed tension, David Sardy’s annoying, intrusive music undermines every attempt at charged exchanges.
An August 19th New York Times article described director Koepp’s refusal to rely on computer-generated effects, opting for Gordon-Levitt and a couple stuntmen to ride on location for every action sequence in the film. They must have enjoyed thrilling days, despite several accidents. But the energy dissipates with every flashback and every pause for Wile to decide instantaneously among three routes he envisions through perilous intersections. It feels as if the story has suddenly dropped into a video game, while the forward momentum evaporates.
The phony, cookie cutter love story with Vanessa flops, and that’s a shame since Dania Ramirez has spunk and appeal. Similarly, Wile’s competitive personal and professional conflict with Manny goes nowhere, also disappointing given Wolé Parks’ charisma. As a casual cyclist, I really looked forward to Premium Rush. Sadly, it doesn’t deliver. At area cinemas.