Year Released: 2012
Directed by: David Koepp
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez, Michael Shannon
“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” Christopher Morley
Forget your Bat Mobile hovercraft, chemically enhanced super soldiers, or big, bad guys with mega guns. This bold and fresh chase film is fueled the old fashioned way, with pure adrenaline and muscle. Not to mention a lot of gray matter as well.
And there is actually a story behind it, too. Unlike the other summer popcorn movies that depend on far-fetched fantasies, this flick is grounded in reality. Right down to Manhattan’s modern version of the Pony Express, its city messenger service of daredevil cyclists who ease their way through the clogged streets like Super Drano.
Wilee, as in Wilee Coyote, played by a very Lance Armstrong looking Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is at the head of the pack. Sure, he’s a law school grad, but he hasn’t bothered about taking the Bar Exams. He’s not ready to wear a suit and be caged in an office. Not yet, at least. His greatest thrill is careening through the streets and intersections of New York City with his super lightweight set of wheels, using all that brainpower to find the most logical way to avoid certain death and destruction. Did I mention that his specially altered bike has no brakes?
We read his mind at each intersection, where the brakeless wonder considers the alternative paths to make it through. It’s a little like the LSAT’s logic games, purely a cerebral exercise where we watch him calculate various paths. Invariably two out the three choices do not end well -- stroller-pushing moms and their infants are wiped out or he becomes a splat on the pavement, but finally one path emerges clean. So what if that means he just barely misses the senior citizen on the sidewalk or cuts in front of his constant nemesis, the equally aggressive taxicab driver. Wilee is on his way.
Except when he’s not, as we find out shortly after the opening adrenaline-fueled sequence, where Wille actually does end up, not exactly as a splat on the pavement, but on the pavement nethertheless, looking dead or very dazed and confused.
A series of flashbacks weave our way to that impact. It’s all very Greek, in a sense, with the three classic unities – time, place, and action – being preserved. Everything takes place within a day. There is no James Bond globe-trotting here; the big, bad streets and dark alleys of Manhattan are a constant. And it all revolves around a single plot element, the chase for the contents of Wilee’s last delivery, a "Premium Rush” job he has to get to a certain part of China Town in ninety minutes.
There’s the same sense of urgency we find in the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps. Both protagonists are inadvertently sucked into malevolent schemes, and in both cases, the “authorities” are not only helpless, they are part of the problem, too.
Quite a bit of the pleasure of the film is the stylish and disciplined approach it has to teasing out little crucial details to tantalize us, bit by bit. We are filled in on the off again on again romance between Wileee and fellow cyclist, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), mostly via phone and text messages, all carried on while the two dodge pedestrians and traffic at warp speed.
Wilee’s pursuer, Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) is developed with enough complexity to understand his manic need to attain the “Premium Rush” message. Monday has the face for the part, too, with just the right resemblance to Jaws of 007 fame to make us instinctually recoil. And here, too, we find out his reason for his desperate chase just a little at a time, keeping the mystery and suspense taut.
With the summer ebbing, take a final shot of sunshine with the fast paced thriller. You will enjoy the muscle-powered ride.
One of Wilee’s more effective uses of legerdemain in his efforts to avoid the relentless Bobby Monday involves his fast food lunch. It also involves a bit of sacrifice, too. Monday is about to impede Wilee’s flight with a bit of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. Wilee pauses, purportedly trying to reach into his messenger cache to hand over the treasured envelope. However, he cannot do this with the Jumbo Burrito in his hand, so he gives it to Monday to hold. Then quick as a fox, Wilee is on way, the frustrated Monday left holding the bag, or burrito, if you prefer.
Here is a great recipe for this fast food staple. Our Beef and Bean Burritos are anything but ordinary, of course.
And you might also enjoy these other New York Appetizers.
Beef and Bean Burritos
Original recipe makes 6 servings
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup taco sauce
1 (16 ounce) can fat-free refried black beans
6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
3/4 cup Daisy Brand Sour Cream
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Mexican cheese blend
Cook the ground beef in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently; drain. Add the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and taco sauce to the meat and stir. Cook for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated and the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
Spread 1/3 cup of refried beans on the bottom 1/3 of each tortilla, leaving 1-inch around bottom and edges. Spoon 1/3 cup of the meat mixture over beans. Top the meat with 1 tablespoon of sour cream and 1/4 cup of cheese. Start rolling up from bottom, enfolding the filling. Fold in the sides and continue rolling up.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray all sides of the burritos with cooking spray. Place burritos on a cookie sheet, seam sides down. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until thoroughly heated and browned, turning over once. Top with dollops of the remaining sour cream.
*Optional: for soft burritos, place each unbaked burrito on an individual microwavable plate. Microwave individually on High 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.
Recipe Source: allrecipes.com