The story within Premium Rush is simple. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Wilee, a New York City bicycle messenger. Michael Shannon plays Bobby Monday, a short-tempered, crooked cop with a big money problem.
Wilee the messenger has the message, the message translates to money. The cop needs the money and knows Wilee's message is worth money. He tries to nicely get it away from Wiley.
He declines. Once a messenger is given a message, the rules say it can only be delivered to the intended person.
When being nice doesn't work, Monday resorts to other tactics. It's quite a trek to the delivery point, and Wilee will be at certain spots at certain times. The cop -- by bits and pieces -- picks up Wilee's trail and intercepts the rider at key points in the movie.
Writer/director David Koepp unfolds his story by combining Google Earth-like technology with today's special effects and brilliantly moves you back and forth through a time period stretching just a couple of hours. Those short stops give you the back story and fills in the holes at exactly the time you need them filled.
Other than that, Koepp -- who wrote Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Spider-Man and Jurassic Park -- never applies the brakes.
The supporting characters -- including Dania Rameriz's (TV's Heroes) -- don't really matter. This is a two-person chess match between a couple of great actors. Levitt does a lot of solo scenes and is exceptional. Shannon (The Runaways) is a little-known character actor who nicely underplays, rather than overplays the rogue cop.
Sometimes, what makes a movie great is not the story so much as how that story is told. Two perfect examples are Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant Rear Window and Christopher Nolan's Memento. As stories they are so-so. The way each is done makes them classics.
While not in that caliber, and not really a great story, Premium Rush gets kudos because Koepp tells it very cleverly and at breakneck speed.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Director: David Koepp
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Rameriz
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some violence. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.