A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Premium Rush is an exhilarating thriller filled with bone-crunching bike-and-car chases and crashes and a few physical confrontations (some with firearms involved). Bike messengers (including one played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) weave in and out of traffic at a dangerous, sometimes cringe-inducing pace. So you can expect plenty of accident scenes, including one that shows a man falling under the wheels of an oncoming vehicle. There's also some swearing (one "f--k," plus "s--t," "a--hole," etc.) and a bit of kissing/flirting and social drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of New York City's best bike messengers. Riding a bike without brakes, he navigates the city's traffic- and pedestrian-clogged streets with tenacity and foresight, hoping his razor-sharp route choices won't land him in the middle of an avenue, knocked off and in mortal danger. One day his agency gets a call; he has to deliver an envelope 100-plus blocks down from his old college, where he was once a law student. And it turns out this is no ordinary pick-up. Wilee's estranged girlfriend's roommate, Nima (Jamie Chung), specifically requested him, and the envelope's contents are as good as money. Soon after retrieving it, Wilee finds himself chased down by an enraged cop (Michael Shannon), who's looking to the envelope as his salvation.
Is it any good?
PREMIUM RUSH won't be mistaken for a complex masterpiece. It's a popcorn movie through and through, made for maximum momentum and white-knuckle thrills. Make peace with this reality, and you're in for a ride (pardon the pun), with bike sequences that will place you square at the handlebars of Wilee's bike, hoping you'll make it out alive. He's a lean, mean delivery machine.
That said, the film suffers from sloppy writing and plotting. (Wilee's name, to start, is explained as a reference to Wile E. Coyote. You don't say.) A romance thrown into the mix is a throwaway, and throughout the movie, there are markers to make sure you're getting points that are already obvious. Viewers never doubt that they'll get to Premium Rush's intended destination, which is a blunder, considering that suspense is what sustains a thriller. Ultimately, what keeps this bike on the road is Gordon-Levitt's authentic, accessible charm and Shannon's off-kilter villain. We can't keep our eyes off them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Premium Rush's tension compares to bloodier violence in other movies. Which has more of an impact on you? Why?
Why do you think bike messengers ride around cities at such a dangerous clip? What's in it for them? Are the motivations presented here believable?
Is Wilee an admirable character? Why?
- In theaters: August 24, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 2012
- Cast: Jamie Chung, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon
- Director: David Koepp
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence, intense action sequences and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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